Artificial intelligence to… sort garbage!

Little by little, artificial intelligence is making its way into recycling centers to better sort waste… and recycle more. The explanations.

Find treasures in trash cans and promote the circular economy. This is the mission of the intelligent robots employed in more and more landfills around the world. Intended to replace the tedious work, so far performed by human beings, these machines are equipped with artificial intelligence and work faster and… without getting tired. They are also a hope for increasing waste recycling rates around the world.

In France in 2021, 89% of French people sorted their packaging, of which only 51% systematically, according to the Observatoire du Geste de Tri. According to a report by the Court of Auditors, the municipal waste recycling rate reached 44% in 2018, slightly below the European average (47%) and far behind Germany (67%). of ranking by individuals so it is a first base, but there is still some work to be done at the recycling center to make the best use of the waste. This is where technology comes in to improve sorting efficiency.

A robot that sorts 6,900 pieces of garbage per hour

In Finland, Norway and Switzerland, the ZenBrain robot from the Finnish company ZenRobotics captures and sorts around 6,900 pieces of waste per hour. Very versatile once its artificial intelligence is properly trained, it can sort up to 350 types of waste: different types of wood, black or multi-layer packaging, hard plastic, inert waste…

The latter, which do not decompose, do not burn and do not produce a physical or chemical reaction, generally come from the construction sector (concrete, tiles, rubble, etc.). Most of the time, they end up in large open air dumps. Here, with ZenBrain, they can be sorted and recycled by specialist providers.

In this video, the robot sorts different types of packaging and places them on conveyor belts.

Even in France,artificial intelligence in the service of dice rankingcheats

The path of artificial intelligence is also being explored in France by various players in this sector. Veolia has invested five years in research and development to develop Max-AI. This operator-splitter, which entered service in June 2018, consists of three modules. A similar solution is offered by the Norwegian Tomra, also used in France.

Each time, the general principle is the same for this type of robot-splitter. Its “eye” – an optical camera – captures the waste passing through the sorting belt. His “arm” is an articulated robot that grabs items and places them in the appropriate container. Finally, his “brain” is a neural network embedded in a computer. The AI ​​is trained with many images of waste to teach it to correctly separate each type of waste.

Cars up to the challenge

France has set a target of 100% recycled plastic by 2025. However, today, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, only 27% of plastic packaging is recycled. The rate increases to 61% for the share of bottles and cans. Also, the Circular Economy Law approved at the end of January 2020 establishes a landfill reduction waste by 50% between 2010 and 2025.

Among the avenues explored to encourage the population to rank better, the company VRAI Studio has developed a selective collection game in virtual reality. RecyclingVR played with a virtual reality headset. Local authorities, schools and businesses will be able to benefit from this awareness during European Waste Reduction Week, which takes place from 19 to 27 November 2022.

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