Tomra introduces wood team

After its recent launch of a new deep-learning-based sorting application capable of separating wood by type, Tomra has established a team focused on the wood segment.

The team includes a newly appointed segment manager, industry experts, waste wood application specialists, and service key account managers.

Valerio Sama, Jose Matas, and Murat Sanli

New opportunities

The primary use of recycled waste wood is currently in particleboard manufacturing. The wood-based panel industry aims to meet very strong market demand and improve product quality by increasing recycled content, resulting in a twofold benefit for the manufacturer.

Recycled wood is up to 40% cheaper than virgin wood and generally dryer, which results in a significant decrease in energy consumption during the drying stage of the panel production.

“The current market development offers a significant opportunity for wood-based panels manufacturers,” said Jose Matas, segment manager wood at TOMRA Recycling, comments.

“Using high-quality recycled materials allows them to produce superior quality wood-based panels, achieve higher yields and outputs while profiting from considerable cost reductions, preserving natural resources, and decreasing CO2 emissions.”

Despite the advantages of wood waste recycling and market trends, a lack of infrastructure impedes the sector’s development. Whereas Central Europe performs well in waste management from collection to recycling and reuse, the waste wood market outside Central Europe is still in its infancy.

A current view on the market reveals considerable discrepancies in segment maturity and opportunities for growth. Italy, for instance, collects about 2 million tonnes (2.2 million tons) of waste wood annually, of which 63% is recycled and turned into panel boards. As a result, approximately 2 million tonnes (2.2 million tons) of CO2 emissions are saved annually.

Contrasting Italy’s high-performing system for waste wood collection and recycling, the European Union and the United States alone leave approximately 100 million tonnes (110.2 million tons) of waste wood unrecycled.

Sensor-based sorting

The particleboard manufacturer’s quest to increase recycled content and promote sustainable wood management requires optimized processes and advanced technologies to recover pure material fractions from a waste wood infeed stream.

New sorting technology quickly adapts to changing waste compositions, increasing purity demands and recovering single fractions. Integrating a wood sorting solution in recycling and production plants enables them to separate non-processed wood and processed wood from complex mixed waste stream and use the purest materials to produce high-quality particleboard on an industrial scale.

The ideal solution consists of two sorting systems, a high-throughput unit for removing inert material and metals and a state-of-the-art optical sorter with an integrated deep learning technology to separate waste wood into different material grades.

A variety of wood-based materials, including engineered wood composites and polymers must be accurately detected and separated into single fractions when creating recycled wood content that meets manufacturing standards. Only wood chip products with the highest quality (Wood A) can replace virgin materials in the production of wood-based panels.

Tomra’s in-house team developed a new deep-learning-based application to sort wood chips by type. Available as an add-on for the company’s Autosort, Gain is trained to detect, analyze, and separate non-processed wood (Wood A) and processed wood (Wood B). Moreover, it identifies and completely separates the MDF among processed wood streams, therefore producing individual wood fractions of the highest possible quality for being used in the production of superior quality particleboard and MDF boards.

Fabrizio Radice, vice-president and head of global sales and marketing at Tomra Recycling, said the company plans to continue investing in the wood recovery segment.