An Economical Alternative for Sorting Polymers on the Small Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) Level

EPA Contract Number: 68D99061
Title: An Economical Alternative for Sorting Polymers on the Small Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) Level
Investigators: Sommer, Edward J.
Small Business: National Recovery Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through March 1, 2000
Project Amount: $70,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


It generally is felt that for plastics recycling to be economically viable in the long term, the recycled resins must be competitive with virgin resins. The production of high-quality recycled resins capable of displacing virgin resins requires that the resin stream be sorted to high purity levels. Currently, most plastics sorting is performed by hand sorting or by automated bottle sorting in large-scale facilities using high-tech sorting equipment. Unfortunately, the capital required to purchase current automated bottle sorting technologies is greater than what most small-scale material recovery facilities can bear. Thus, even with the technologies available, only a small portion of plastics are recycled. The objective of the proposed Phase I research is to determine feasibility of applying new technology to the development of a low-cost multipolymer sorting system for installation in small material recovery facilities.

If the Phase I and Phase II research is successful, the application of the sorting technology will improve the purity of the plastics recycling stream to near virgin levels and promote a greater interest in collecting plastics for recycling. The proposed technology has substantial potential commercial application in sorting postconsumer plastics at the small, municipal curbside, recyclable materials recovery facility level, with nearly every state having legislation requiring specific levels of recycling (typically 25% by weight) to be achieved in the near future. Anticipated clients are the hundreds of materials recovery facilities in the United States and the increasing numbers of those abroad.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, solid waste, recycling, engineering, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Municipal, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, New/Innovative technologies, Chemistry and Materials Science, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, municipal waste plastics, waste minimization, waste reduction, waste recycling, recovery, plastics sorting, polymer sorting, municipal waste, polymers, recycling, plastics, materials recovery facility, material recovery facility, pollution prevention

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • SBIR Phase II:

    An Economical Alternative for Sorting Polymers on the Small Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) Level  | Final Report