Niagara Fibre Optical Sorting Success Story

With the help of CIF funding, a $2.56 million FOSS, including two TiTech optical sort units rated at a combined 24 tonnes/hr, was procured through a competitive RFP process and was designed, manufactured, supplied, installed and commissioned by Van Dyk Baler Corporation.

The system was installed in the MRF to increase the recovery of old corrugated cardboard (OCC) and boxboard (OBB) from the newsprint stream and to reduce the level of contamination in the newsprint stream.

After installation of the FOSS, newsprint tonnes sold decreased by 27.2% from 2015 to 2016. This is a result of the FOSS actively removing contamination and valuable OCC/OBB (8,550 tonnes) from marketed newsprint in addition to an overall reduction in inbound newsprint tonnages (est. 1,316 tonnes), due to factors such as online shopping and declining newspaper subscriptions and advertising.

During the same period, OCC/OBB tonnes sold to end markets increased about 8,550 tonnes, (59.7%) and revenue increased by $1,189,933, (77%).  In addition to improved commodity pricing received in 2016, another contributing factor to the increase in sales revenue was a result of fewer downgrades (-$240,000 in 2014) from end markets because of the improved quality produced by the FOSS. On average, the percentage of out-throws and prohibitives present in the fibre stream decreased from 30.1% to 11%.

The good news

The net result on the bottom line attributable to the FOSS, after all expenses and market adjustments, is a very respectable $549,159 savings per year, resulting in a payback of the total project cost in just 4.67 years.


To help those thinking about installing a fibre optical sorting system, Niagara staff make the following observations in the final project report, which can be read on the CIF website here: Project 861 Final Report

  1. A dedicated sort line should be installed to QC the positively ejected materials from the optical sorter. Due to the nature of the fibre stream, purity rates will be lower than compared to, for example, a PET single eject optical sorter.
  2. In order to reduce dust levels and winter related issues with the ejection nozzle bar, consideration should be given to installing a fine screen upstream that would remove shredded paper, glass, snow and ice. This would reduce nozzle bar issues, dust generation and extra cleaning requirements.
  3. Compressed air consisting of high quality and sufficient quantity is key with any optical sorter system. Consideration should be given to building in 100% system redundancy. If one compressor unit is down for preventative maintenance or repairs, a second unit should be available to keep the FOSS operational.
  4. Notwithstanding equipment manufacturer rated throughput capacity, operating at slower speeds and lower belt burden depth results in better quality. Therefore, the ability to operate on more than 1 shift, screening some contaminants upstream or installing equipment rated at higher throughput can substantially affect the success of the system.

Contact CIF Staff

CIF staff is always ready to help. Please contact any member of the team to discuss your issues and questions.