Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain technology have become major buzz words across waste and recycling operations—particularly when it comes to eliminating contaminants and processing clean materials for end markets.
Throughout the show, San Francisco-based Compology highlighted its dumpster monitoring software that provides remote visibility into dumpster fullness, contents, location and service. Compology also showcased its camera-based contamination recognition, measurement and scoring technology, Contamination Score (CScore); its Text-To-Order product that automates service prompts and submissions for roll-off; and its software API and integration capabilities.
The company’s CEO Jason Gates also sat on a panel titled “Artificial Intelligence & The War on Contamination,” which dove into the application of AI technologies that are helping stop contamination upstream as well as educating generators on proper recycling with high-touch, targeted coaching.
During a session titled “Robots & Recycling: A Dynamic Duo,” Bill Keegan of Dem-Con; Matanya Horowitz of AMP Robotics; Michael Gross of Zanker Recycling; and Will Hancock of Plexus Recycling Technologies discussed how far robotics have come in the recycling world in the past two years.
Machine learning, or AI, distinguishes materials’ features while avoiding the need for expensive spectral infrared sensors. AI can pull data from recycling facilities across the country, enabling information to be shared from one facility to another. The robot itself can pull cartons, containers, cans and metals. And it can clean polyethylene terephthalate (PET) on the line.
Between increasingly tightened commodities quality standards, worsening labor shortages and high logistics costs, the question is what do we do? Keegan turned to automation to reduce the need for manual labor and improve efficiency of operations. From an operator's perspective, he said, robotics has a smaller footprint than optical sorting and is easy to add to an existing system. It also has enabled eliminating physically demanding, manual sorting jobs where there is potential for injury.
TOMRA SORTING RECYLING unveiled information about its new cloud-based program that connects customers’ optical sorting equipment. TOMRA Insight provides near real-time data, collected in the cloud, that is retrieved on desktops and mobile devices. By providing digital metrics like throughput, material size and distribution, acceptance and rejection rates and more, TOMRA Insight gives equipment companies the operating data necessary to optimize sorting performance and reduce machine downtime. In addition, TOMRA Sorting specialists also shared the latest information on the company’s SHARP EYE technology that helps recycling operations increase recovery of recyclable paper and sort single-layer PET trays from PET bottles.
End of Waste Foundation Inc. (EOW) announced its first partnership with Momentum Recycling, a glass recycling plant located in Colorado and Utah. Momentum is implementing End of Waste’s traceability software based on blockchain technology. The EOW Blockchain Waste Traceability Software can track glass waste quantities from bin to new life.