Plastic recycling is a long process and it takes different steps to transform a plastic waste into a recycled object, and not every type of plastic can be recycled. With XSpectra can be obtained a better system for plastic sorting and consequently more recycled plastic.

plastic recycling

The context: some data

Plastic is by far the most widely used material in the world, and millions of plastic packages and bottles are sold and consumed every day. Some 2016 studies, the most recent at the moment on the subject, claim that a quantity of plastic equal to 396 million tons is produced, about 53kg per person for each inhabitant of the earth. This amount of plastics has caused the emission of 2 billions tons of  CO2, 6% of the annual emissions. 

In Italy one person produces nearly 1 kilograms of plastic every 5 days, 73 kg every year.

Given that for the most part plastic products are disposable, plastic waste amounts to about 310 tons of which a third of these are dispersed in the ground and in the sea and subsequently in food.

75% of the plastic is recycled while the remainder ends up in the waste-to-energy plants.

Plastic recycling: the process and the technologies

How can you reduce this quantity of waste? The best solution is obviously waste sorting and sorting of different types of plastic to better recycle.

The good news: Plastic recycling is possible. In order to get new recycled plastic objects, plastic needs to undergo a series of treatments including sorting of plastic and must undergo a series of processes and treatments including the separation of parts of different polymers.

Plastic sorting technologies actually used in recycling plants are:

  • Visual technologies 
  • Infrared technologies
  • Xrays machines

This last technology in particular, allows you to see through the plastic materials that pass on the belt and helps to detect components and internal parts that cannot be treated with the same procedure. A further important strength is to achieve faster sorting of large quantities and volumes of plastic by going beyond simple PET bottles. When a x-ray machine detect pieces of plastics that can not be processed it automatically discards them. This is possible through a detailed analysis of the different spectrum images detected by machines and processed by the software.

Shortcomings of actual technologies overcame by XSpectra

However, these technologies still have several limitations regarding materials sorting. They have certainly reached a good level of efficiency in distinguishing plastic parts from components of other materials such as iron, glass, or electrical components, but are unable to distinguish and separate mixed material flows (e.g. different types of polypropylene or polyethylene in the broader polyolefin category). In addition, current technology has major limitations when dealing with small pieces or with black or heavy coloured/filled plastics. Further, it does not provide any information on the composition of the recycled materials.

The solution developed by Xnext, XSpectra, overcomes those limitations and is able to differentiate polymers with different composition and/or molecular weight. Thus has significant potential in increasing the accuracy of sorting material and plastic recycling. Material transparency or colour is not a problem, so XSpectra can easily deal with clear, black coloured or heavy filled pieces of plastics. Moreover, the AI software integrated analyses in few milliseconds a big amount of datasets allowing to create a model that permits to reach high levels of precision and efficiency in recognize all the spectrum images of the materials.

The claim of Xnext is “A better recycling to save the planet” because we believe that a more efficient way of recycling is possible and it can make a big difference on how we treat the environment. 


Here some articles from our blog, and other websites, where you can get more informations on plastic recycling: