US recycling problem solved by robots
US recycling problem solved by robots

Recycling has always been a problem for many countries around the globe, especially as the manufacturing of plastic has gushed.

The US generates 4.51 pounds of garbage on average per day, 300 million tons of waste produced per year, while most of the recyclables get contaminated due to the placement in the wrong bins.

Due to the contamination, the items cannot be recycled and left for landfills, burned, or left at the ocean shores.

The modern technology made to restructure the procedure may help the U.S. make developments in eliminating the plastic that is left for landfills.

The need for automation in recycling centers is “obvious,” Matanya Horowitz, founder, and CEO of AMP Robotics, told ABC News, especially since positions to sort through the trash do not pay well and can be dangerous.

Items such as bowling balls, skis, fabric, and dirty diapers often make their way to the sorting center, Joshua Taylor, the manager of the Denver recycling plant, told ABC News.

“At AMP Robotics, we’re using robotics and artificial intelligence to solve some of the primary challenges of the recycling business,” Horowitz said.

“Most people in robotics that I knew thought it was a terrible idea,” Horowitz said, adding that they were “skeptical of the problems.”

“What I saw in recycling, the whole industry was being held back by these core challenges,” Horowitz said. “And if you could develop a vision system that could identify material, even though it’s been smashed and folded and dirty, you could deal with those core challenges, and you would unlock a whole lot for the industry.”

At the Waste Management plant in Denver, an average of 32 tons of waste is processed every hour, Taylor said, describing the recycling center as “a tough place to work.”

“So, you can imagine, every hour we’re doing about one and a half tractor trailer full of recyclable materials through the plant,” he said.

Recycling centers can install the robots in facilities “with almost no change to their existing operations,” Horowitz said.

The recycling industry is not achieving its full potential, said Susan Collins, the executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, a non-profit that provides information, consultation, technical assistance, and tools for recycling.

About 44% of greenhouse gases in the U.S. come from products and packaging, meaning that making recycling more efficient “represents the largest portion of what we can do” to reduce emissions, she said.

“People don’t look to the lowly glass bottle or aluminum cans and think, ‘Oh, that’s an opportunity for me to save energy and save greenhouse gases,'” Collins said. “But it is, and it’s huge.”

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