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Strengthening the circular economy


Effective recycling depends on effective waste sorting. Separating the different elements contained in waste streams is essential to reclaim useful materials, minimize the amount of discarded material and allow recyclable materials to find a new use.

Pellenc Selective Technologies has pioneered the design and manufacture of sorting equipment for the waste and recycling industry all along. The company was founded by Roger Pellenc, who first established a firm under the name of Pellenc SA that manufactured high-technology equipment for the fruit, grape and olive industries.

In the course of development, this firm introduced many successful electronics and software products as well as several fruit picking robots. When French legislation made sorting for recycling a necessity in 1992, the robotics technology was adapted to waste sorting. It soon became obvious, however, that the added value lay in the sensors recognizing the products rather than the sophisticated handling technology itself.

Refuse not being as fragile as fruit, industrial speed could be raised considerably by using non-contact technologies, so Pellenc replaced its robots by air jet systems. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is another key technology that was born in the agricultural sector and adapted to real-time plastics recognition.

The portfolio was there now to create a new company, and in 2001 Pellenc Selective Technologies was officially established. Needless to say, there has been no standstill of development since. “Waste is more difficult to separate than other products due to influences such as dirt, humidity and temperature,” says CEO Jean Henin. “We serve the waste and recycling industry at two levels: firstly the collective points for primary separation and secondly the recycling companies specializing in fine sorting technologies. Up to 80% of our machines are inte grated in processing cycles and installed to form the actual brain of a system.”

With more than 1,000 machines installed worldwide, Pellenc ST is the recognized leader where optical sorting machines are concerned. The technologies used to sort household and industrial waste materials are near infrared, middle infrared, vision and induction technologies.

All components including lighting, optical head, injection bar and electrical cabinet as well as the equipment itself are manufactured and assembled at the Pellenc site in Pertuis. As much as 10% of the company’s resources is dedicated to research and innovation, promoting new developments and patented solutions, for example new sorting technologies for organic waste or office paper.

“The amount of office paper in comparison to newspapers is rising, as the Internet is becoming the preferred source of information,” points out Mr. Henin in this context. “We intend to support specialized office paper recycling solutions, as they will help to raise the recovery value. As it is, we do not consider the sale of production machines our main purpose, but influencing and promoting the cycle of economy in the recycling market.”

Pellenc lives up to this aim with robust, innovative, high-performance solutions for new projects and the improvement of existing sorting and recycling centers. “The fact that our machines are extremely robust means a high level of operational safety for our clients,” emphasizes the company’s CEO. “Cost efficiency is another important asset that is greatly appreciated by machine users. Moreover, we offer competent and reliable customer service and support.”

Pellenc optical sorting machines cover virtually every application in the sorting market, from materials recovery and recycling facilities right through to special applications such as construction and demolition waste recycling, cable sorting and many more.

Convinced that it is better to reclaim and reuse raw materials than merely using waste as a source of energy in incineration processes, Pellenc ST continues to develop and strengthen the circular economy in its domestic market and abroad.

Regulations vary in virtually each of the 40 countries the company operates in, and laws related to the end of landfill operations and the introduction of waste sorting have resulted in major advances, particularly the industrialized world. Pellenc ST has facilitated this development with innovations such as a new software architecture, visible spectroscopy, dual-energy X-ray transmission, flake sorting, organic and wood sorting and a complete range of solutions for paper sorting.

While recycling is accepted as a necessity in most industrialized nations today, the situation is still different in many developing countries. Pellenc ST considers it a necessity to present economically successful models to work a change for the better.

“In Brazil we have been able to achieve the first promising results and introduce landfill alternatives,” points out Mr. Henin. “Sorting is part of waste management, and the more effective it is done, the greater the benefits both under environmental and economic considerations.”

A pioneer and leader of technology in the optical sorting industry for decades now thanks to ongoing research and development, Pellenc ST is firmly focused on international expansion. The fact that 75% of the company’s systems are sold outside its French domestic market confirms its international recognition.

At present, the group has operational bases in Europe, the USA and Asia, sales and customer service bases in North America, South America and Europe and agencies in Middle America, Europe and Asia. Pellenc ST itself generates revenues worth 22 million EUR with a dedicated workforce of 112 and has all it takes to maintain or even strengthen its position as a leader in optical sorting for the global waste handling and recycling industry.

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