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City & Urban PlanningProductionRecyclingIndustry & services

How to sort waste without touching it

For optimal raw material recycling, Veolia makes use of innovative technologies in its high performance sorting centres in France. In Amiens, two new Veolia patented processes – auto-adaptive sequential sorting (TSA2) and remotely operated sorting – make for a much faster and more efficient process, just with the touch of a finger on a screen!
An advantage for the planet given that a metric ton of recycled plastic prevents the emission of 2,290 kg CO2 equivalent.

© Phototheque VEOLIA - Christophe Majani d'Inguimbert

Detailed Solution description

AMIENS, INNOVATION FOR BETTER WASTE SORTING The 5 high performance sorting centres (Centre de Tri Haute Performance – CTHP) operated by Veolia in France use ballistic, optical and compressed air sorting processes. These advanced techniques optimize the production of secondary raw materials – ferrous and nonferrous metals, paper and cardboard, plastics, wood – and produce a “solid recovered fuel” alternative energy source. One of these, located in the industrial area north of Amiens, was designed to meet the needs of over 400,000 inhabitants in the departments of the Somme, the Pas-de-Calais and Oise. The facility was completely renovated between 2013 and 2014, and can now process 22,000 metric tons of household waste per year (30% more than the old site): sorting plastic packaging (food cartons, plastic containers and bottles). It combines two innovative technologies patented by Veolia: auto-adaptive sequential sorting (TSA2) and remotely operated sorting. The combination of these two processes allows the Amiens centre to sort almost 2.5 times more waste per hour. An advantage given France’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Bill that sets a target of 60% for recycled non-hazardous waste by 2025, compared with 51% today. The TSA2 process automatically sorts packaging according to material and colour. Every minute it selects the majority waste type on the sorting line – for example clear PET, such as water bottles. Remotely operated sorting is used in the second stage to refine the results of the TSA2 sorting operation. A sorting operator sits in front of a screen showing the image of the waste sorted by the TSA2. The operator selects the waste that is not part of the type and not identified by the TSA2. The operator simply touches the unwanted waste on the screen. The items are then automatically ejected by a compressed air system. Remotely operated sorting also represents a step forward in health and safety terms. By removing all contact between the sorting operators and the waste, remotely operated sorting means improved operator safety by overcoming the risk of cuts and impact. Remotely operated sorting also improves sorting performance. At the Amiens (France) sorting centre, an additional 6% of household packaging is recovered compared with manual sorting. An advantage for the planet, given that a metric ton of recycled plastic prevents the emission of 2,290 kg CO2 equivalent – a journey of 15,300 kilometres by car. A result of the work undertaken by Veolia Research and Innovation to optimize sorting and improve the quality of sorted products, remotely operated sorting is a key step in the production of standardized secondary raw materials that provide the same guarantees of quality, consistency and durability manufacturers demand of virgin materials. In this context, Veolia is now studying the technical and economic feasibility of installing TSA2 technologies and remotely operated sorting in other sorting centres in France, as well as expanding the use of remotely operated sorting for other types of waste plastic packaging.

© Phototheque VEOLIA - Christophe Majani d'Inguimbert

Launch Date

Implementation began on

The new sorting facility in Amiens was completely renovated from September 2013 and was opened by Veolia in November 2014.

Solution Partners

The renovation of the sorting centre in Amiens required an investment of 7.5 million euros, financed by Veolia with the support of grants from the Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (ADEME - government agency for assistance in energy saving measures) of 600,000 euros. Producing the industrial prototype for the remotely operated sorting process represented an investment of 2.5 million euros over five years.

Key figures illustrating Solution deployment and results

- Coverage of a catchment area of 400,000 inhabitants
- Processing capacity: 22,000 metric tons of household waste per year
- Nearly 2.5 times more waste sorted per hour using the TSA2 technologies and remotely operated sorting
- 6% more household packaging recycled using the remotely operated sorting process.

Performance, impact and results

Better recycling of plastic waste, use of innovative sorting technologies to recycle 6% more packaging compared with manual sorting.

Improved working conditions for sorting operators through the remotely operated sorting process, which removes the need for handling the waste.

Improvement in the quality of sorted waste, a key step in processing waste into secondary raw materials used by manufacturers as a substitute for virgin raw materials.

Establishment of two advanced technologies, patented by Veolia: auto-adaptive sequential sorting (TSA2) and remotely operated sorting. The combination of these processes in Amiens sorts plastic waste faster (2.5 times more waste sorted per hour), while improving operator safety

  • Professional contact
    Fanny Demulier
    CSR Officer
  • Press Contact
    Marie Bouvet
    Press Relations