Some waste management companies are creating new technology solutions as a way to improve the recycling process around the world.
According to The World Bank data, the world generates around 2bn tonnes of municipal waste a year. Sadly, most waste ends up in landfills and only a fraction is recycled globally.
While there are many factors contributing to the increasing amount of waste around the world, one of the main reasons for that is the inefficient waste management system. This system is unable to deal with the vast amounts of garbage generated every day.
While technology may not be a panacea to this global issue, process automation of garbage sorting and disposal by using artificial intelligence (AI) and other technology is expected to bring better waste management methods to sustainable recycling.
AI and smart waste identification
Advanced automation and robotics are being developed in order to help make recycling a faster process. Technology can sort trash at a rate of up to 160 pieces per minute, while human workers do this at a rate of 30 to 40. In addition, labourers usually work eight hours a day while AI driven machines can keep a quick pace as long as the conveyor runs.
A US-based startup AMP Robotics, named one of the top 10 most innovative robotics companies of 2020, addresses these issues by creating solutions guided by AI to perform manual tasks of waste identification, sorting, and placing. The company recently announced that it has achieved one billion recyclables processed over the past 12 months. The achievement marks the reliability of their AI application for the recycling industry.
Optimising waste recycling with smart e-bins
Getting recycling wrong is common, and a huge challenge faced by the industry. It can not only cost extra time and money to separate materials at a waste sorting facility, but it can also contaminate a load of useful recyclables. Yet many of us still struggle to understand the rules of recycling with so many different bins and materials being used.
CleanRobotics has created a smart bin TrashBot™ that separates trash from recyclables using AI and sensors combining object recognition and computer vision to make waste management much more efficient. TrashBot™ also recognises when it is full. Furthermore, CleanRobotics targets large facilities that usually produce a lot of waste, such as airports, shopping malls, big corporate offices. This technology optimises waste management allowing to save costs, time and labour.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology systems are used in waste material picking, sorting, and identifying by using different tags. These tags attached to waste and recycling containers provide data of when the bins were full, emptied and the weight of its contents.
As RFID allows data to be captured in real-time, the information is available for planning and operational management purposes. Songdo, a city in South Korea, uses RFID to identify trash and facilitate waste management process.
For more on waste management, see here for information on e-waste.