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TOMRA Sorting Recycling’s advanced sensor-based technology is replacing manual sorting in China, enabling the recovery of higher yields and greater purity of valuable resources from municipal solid waste (MSW) streams.

18 December 2014

Advanced sensor-based waste sorting systems from TOMRA Sorting Recycling are playing a crucial role in the operation of the recently completed MSW treatment plant in the Huli district of the city of Xiamen, Fujian Province, China.

The plant operator, Alee, is using TOMRA Sorting machines – specifically the TITECH autosort 4 and the TITECH x-tract – for the automated sorting of PE film, mixed hard plastic and refuse derived fuel (RDF). They are also being used for the cleaning of organics by sorting out inerts, such as stones and glass, before organic fermentation.   

Occupying an area of 7.6 hectares, the Xiamen MSW treatment plant typically sorts 640 tonnes of waste per day (t/d), with a maximum capacity of 800t/d. The first phase building at the plant was opened in 2011. The second phase included TOMRA Sorting sensor-based systems to automatically sort recyclables and equipment for the anaerobic digestion of organic waste. 

Xiamen MSW treatment plant is a national pilot project
From March 2013 onwards, TOMRA Sorting installed and set up its sensor-based sorting systems as part of an agreement between Alee and Xiamen local government. Functional testing at the plant was completed in June 2014, including a successful pilot run of the sensor-based sorting equipment. Commercial operation by Alee began in August 2014, with the plant running for 14 hours a day, seven days a week. The plant is a national pilot project and in September this year was approved by central government.

Good balance between economic factors, environmental protection and social development
Commenting of the sorting systems, Shi Zhihua, general manager at Xiamen Alee, said: "The MSW sorting and treatment plant in Xiamen strikes a good balance between economic factors, environmental protection and social development.”

"Our environmentally-friendly plant helps address the increasingly serious MSW issue in the city and make sustainable development possible. It also helps to improve the economy by sorting and separating useful materials from waste streams and transforming organic waste into electrical energy and fertilizer."

The Xiamen MSW treatment plant was made possible by forward-looking government policy on the environment. While operator Alee was responsible for the initial investment of RMB206 million (US$33.5 million) in the plant, after a number of years of operation, ownership of the plant will be transferred from Alee to local government.

Proud to play a central role in an operation
TOMRA Sorting Recycling’s country manager in China, Jacob Rognhaug, said: "We are both pleased and proud to have the opportunity to play a central role in an operation that will have immense environmental benefits and directly support China's drive for sustainable development.”

“Our automated sorting equipment is among the most advanced of its kind in the world, and we are absolutely committed to working with our China customers to make waste recycling work. We are confident that the Xiamen plant is an example from which other cities in China can learn."