AI-enabled Innovations in recycling waste
Our world is currently facing a significant issue of waste generation, particularly plastic waste due to rapid urbanization. In 2015 alone, the world produced 448 million tons of waste. Most of the waste ends up in oceans, and therefore to avoid any disaster, we soon need to take necessary action. Fortunately, many intelligent innovations in recycling waste are there to assist us and protect the environment.
Artificial intelligence with smart robots & sensors is becoming an enabling technology in every industry. In environmental conservation too, AI is proving to be a significant contributor. Many innovations in recycling are happening across the entire world but AI is significantly transforming the method of recycling waste making it more efficient and effective.
There are two main benefits of using artificial intelligence for waste recycling:
- First, AI speeds up the process sorting the waste coming to the recycling center; and
- Second, it can also assist in analyzing the sorted waste and in identifying the kind of waste, such as different grades of plastic, bio-waste, etc.
Have a look at 7 such innovations in waste-recycling that are transforming the waste-management landscape using AI:
SamurAI tops our list of AI-enabled innovations in recycling. It is a robotic innovation developed by Machinex. The robot has been showcased in the Waste Expo conference in Las Vegas. This robot uses AI to identify objects on a conveyor belt for sorting.
Recyclables such as containers, plastic bottles, and cartons can be recognized with this robot. After the robot identifies the item, it uses a suction cup to pick it up and put it in the correct bin. This sorting robot can do up to 70 picks per minute compared to manual picking which involves 35 picks per minute. This results in a significant reduction in operating costs and enhances productivity.
Lakeshore Recycling Systems, which is the biggest recycling company in Illinois, has already installed this system in its recycling plant in Forest View, Illinois. The robotic system saves between $120,000 and $130,000 per year for the company.
AMP Robotics Corp. is a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics for the recycling sector. AMP Robotics is rethinking recycling robots. Founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz received grants to develop vision systems for enhancing the accuracy to separate things using machines rather than through human intervention. The equipment used by the company is being “trained” by showing it countless pictures ranging from logos to box shapes & dyed plastics.
TOMRA, a Norwegian multinational corporation is credited as the inventor of near-infrared sensors for sorting applications. It has a vast experience with sensors that can provide information about moisture or chlorine levels as items are being washed and sorted. The company holds close to 80 patents. The company’s equipment is installed in close to 100,000 locations worldwide.
TOMRA’s most recent innovations in recycling include a material recognition sensor that has the ability to sort single-layer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) trays and a new laser feature. The latter development helps TOMRA’s systems detect black objects that are usually hard to identify, and those with specific shapes like silicon cartridges. As per the company’s website, the AI used in these systems will soon be able to detect the presence of films within rigid plastics.
The company also collects 40 billion used beverage containers annually through the reverse vending machines.
Bin-e is a Polish tech startup. The team at Bin-e has developed a robotic trash can that can recognize and sort waste according to its category. A ‘camera & sensors equipped’ trash can relies on machine learning for the identification of waste that’s thrown into it. It directs the received item to the correct chamber after recognizing it.
Once the chambers are full of trash, it notifies the maintenance team for taking the trash to the recycling facility. The computer system of the bin collects information like the quality of the item thrown into it, its brand, etc. and this data is automatically uploaded to the cloud which may be further analyzed.
Ishitva Robotics Systems
Ishitava Robotic System is an Indian tech startup founded in 2018. Its solution is based on industry 4.0 tools, including Artificial Intelligence, IOT, & Machine Learning. According to the founders, effective sorting of the waste is currently the weakest link in creating a circular value chain. Therefore, the team particularly focuses on creating an effective and efficient sorting system to avoid dumping and burning of dry waste with a view to improving both the quantity & quality of recycling activities.
Their solutions use computer vision to make sorting more efficient at different stages of the waste value chain. Their proprietary algorithm ‘ishitvAI’ helps to achieve automated high volume and better quality sorting in a fraction of time when compared to human sorting.
ZenRobotics Recycler is the world’s first robotic waste sorting system. Their robots have the ability to accurately separate chosen waste fractions from the whole solid waste streams. The AI-powered robots can easily adapt to diverse sorting needs, offering endless waste sorting possibilities. This in turn leads to increased productivity and reduced cost of waste separation.
TrashBot™ of Clean Robotics sorts waste much more accurately than humans. Using a cloud-connected robotic system and artificial intelligence; they are able to recover more recyclable material from the waste, thus reducing the actual waste in the process.
Its autonomous system equipped with robotics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence, detects and separates landfills from recyclables, captures high-quality waste data, and lets its staff know when it’s getting full. Cloud connectivity enables individual Trashbot units to learn from the ‘global TrashBot fleet’, making the system more intelligent over time.
Many sectors today are harnessing the power of robots to perform tasks that would take humans much longer to finish. The waste recycling industry is also leveraging the power of AI to enable recycling robots for sorting objects more efficiently than humans. Although the AI-based innovations in recycling are still in their infancy, rigorous research is being carried out in this sector and we should not underestimate its potential. The real magnitude of its impact on the recycling industry is yet to be seen.
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