With industry efforts to increase the use of recycled material in the manufacture of wood-based materials and improve cost efficiency, the recycling of wood waste is becoming increasingly important. High-precision sorting processes provide access to recyclable materials and enable a circular economy for wood. Various cleaning steps are critical to the quality of the final product and the amount of recycled material that new wood products contain.

New technological Approaches

Headquartered in Norway, TOMRA Recycling Sorting has been involved in wood processing for more than a decade. Since then, the company has supported the industry with its expertise and state-of-the-art sorting technology. In recent years, TOMRA has introduced a new deep-learning based sorting solution and continuously optimized its X-ray transmission technology based sorting machine to best meet the needs of the market. At LIGNA 2023 in Hannover, Germany, TOMRA will present in detail the benefits of its complete solution for wood sorting, both at its booth and on stage.

In Combination it separates even better

The company's product portfolio for wood sorting includes the X-TRACT for producing clean wood chips from waste wood and AUTOSORT with GAIN deep learning technology for sorting by wood material groups. Wood processors and recyclers using a combination of both systems are expected to benefit from significant advantages resulting from the production of high-quality mono-fractions of wood-based material group A, a clean wood-based material group B and MDF.

Releasing and utilizing existing Potentials

Sorting and cleaning scrap wood provides easier access to limited materials and ensures that the material can be used on an ongoing basis. In addition, the use of recycled wood brings cost savings in both material supply and energy costs associated with drying in the production process. In order to unlock this enormous potential and produce recycled raw materials of the highest quality on a large scale, the latest technological advances in sensor-based sorting are required.

Impressive first Step

In a first cleaning step, TOMRA's X-TRACT removes all impurities from the waste wood. In the process, a pure wood chip fraction is produced. Thanks to XRT technology, which enables high throughput, metals, inert material, plastics and glass can be detected and sorted according to their atomic density. The machine's advanced technology even detects wood chips with nails, composite materials and overlapping objects in an instant, providing a huge increase in recovery rates and purity levels. Recent updates to the powerful X-ray source, which TOMRA guarantees for 16,000 hours, provide even more reliable sorting performance, and new access features allow for easy and safe maintenance.

But it gets even better

While reliable on its own, the new X-TRACT for scrap wood sorting produces a fraction that can be further processed into mono-materials that meet manufacturing standards. However, to deliver recycled materials that also meet stringent quality standards, recyclers must go a step further and recover different types of materials from the wood chip fraction. Unprocessed wood, in particular, is in high demand and indispensable for particleboard production. Until recently, separating wood by material type was a major obstacle to increasing recycling rates. Thanks to the latest innovations in Deep Learnig based sorting technology, these challenges can now be overcome.

Using deep Learnig to produce high-purity Fractions of a Material Type

As an industry pioneer, in 2021 TOMRA became the first company to introduce deep-learning-based technology for sorting wood by material type - GAIN deep-learning technology, which is available as an add-on for AUTOSORT machines. This technology is designed to distinguish between different material types such as processed and unprocessed wood. Recyclers using the latest technology thus benefit from high operational flexibility and have the possibility to produce high-purity fractions of one material type. Jose Matas, Segment Manager Wood at TOMRA Recycling Sorting, explains, "By combining our X-TRACT and AUTOSORT with GAIN, recyclers benefit from a high-performance and future-oriented solution for wood sorting. The recovered materials meet production standards and help overcome current challenges such as price volatility and the shortage of high quality recycled materials. We have a long history in the wood segment and will continue to support the industry in the best possible way to unlock new opportunities - and there are a lot."