Towards recycling of challenging waste fractions: Identifying flame retardants in plastics with optical spectroscopic techniques

Tuomas Sormunen (Corresponding Author), Sanna Uusitalo, Hannu Lindström, Kirsi Immonen, Juha Mannila, Janne Paaso, Sari Järvinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


The use of plastics is rapidly rising around the world causing a major challenge for recycling. Lately, a lot of emphasis has been put on recycling of packaging plastics, but, in addition, there are high volume domains with low recycling rate such as automotive, building and construction, and electric and electronic equipment. Waste plastics from these domains often contain additives that restrict their recycling due to the hazardousness and challenges they bring to chemical and mechanical recycling. As such, the first step for enabling the reuse of these fractions is the identification of these additives in the waste plastics. This study compares the ability of different optical spectroscopy technologies to detect two different plastic additives, fire retardants ammonium polyphosphate and aluminium trihydrate, inside polypropylene plastic matrix. The detection techniques near-infrared (NIR), Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy as well as hyperspectral imaging (HSI) in the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) and mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) range were evaluated. The results indicate that Raman, NIR and SWIR HSI have the potential to detect these additives inside the plastic matrix even at relatively low concentrations. As such, utilising these methods has the possibility to facilitate sorting and recycling of as of yet unused plastic waste streams, although more research is needed in applying them in actual waste sorting facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1546-1554
JournalWaste Management and Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • plastic
  • sorting
  • recycling
  • additives
  • near-infrared
  • Fourier-transform infrared
  • Raman
  • hyperspectral
  • imaging
  • Plastic
  • hyperspectral imaging
  • Electronic Waste/analysis
  • Ammonium Compounds
  • Aluminum
  • Polypropylenes
  • Polyphosphates
  • Recycling
  • Plastics
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Flame Retardants


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