How Technology can improve recycling plants

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10th December 2019

How Technology can improve recycling plants


Technology is already involved in existing recycling processes to increase speed and efficiency. For the future of recycling, processes and operations will be designed around robotic systems, making them more adaptable to the growing amount of separate plastics and other waste materials.

With society set to continue producing more waste year upon year, robotic waste recycling will be necessary to meet the needs of a new circular economy. Robotic solutions have advantages over conventional recycling, and as quality requirements get tighter, systems will require recycler-robotic machines to combat the problem.

The future of waste management seems intertwined with robotics. Plans of automated waste trucks equipped with smart sensors are rumoured. Trucks that can automatically notify recycling stations about incoming waste types so sorting lines can autonomously switch sorting settings.

With robotics, sorting lines can become fully automated lines that work 24/7. Every piece of waste that comes through the system can be measured and monitored. Although they sound like something lifted straight from a sci-fi novel, these high-performance machines are commercially available today.

Future Challenges

The vision for the future of robotic waste separation and processing is looking towards Artificial Intelligence (AI). Waste management is one of the most challenging unstructured industries there is. Robots that combine machine learning and sensors to work these unstructured environments will go a long way to achieving future recycling targets.

The applications including robots and AI will improve over time. More precise and smarter software will be developed, with masses of accumulated sensor data that can perfect advanced algorithms. Being able to teach AI to handle new waste types and make the overall system more efficient is the main future challenge robotic waste separation faces.

As future developments get underway, the software required to run these robotic waste recycling plants will catch up to existing hardware.