Essex plant trials AI-driven robotic recycling solution

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Waste management company Paper Round has partnered with AI start-up Greyparrot and Middlesex University to develop an AI-powered robotic solution that detects and recovers plastics at materials recycling facilities (MRF).

The solution uses Greyparrot’s AI waste recognition software integrated into a third-party hardware system. It uses deep learning to solve complex visual problems ensuring robots can identify waste with the same or better accuracy than humans.

Following a £500,000 grant from Innovate UK, the technology will be installed at Paper Round’s MRF in Purfleet, Essex this summer ahead of trials designed to improve plastic recycling figures.

According to Paper Round, under 60% of plastic bottles and 33% of pots, tubs and trays are recycled.

Bill Swan, managing director of Paper Round, said: “We are excited to be part of these trials. We see many different types of plastics on our MRF and we welcome the opportunity to be able to more efficiently identify and sort these for recycling.”

During the trials, feedback on captured images of plastics will be used to train the AI vision systems. The system will also provide waste data.

Mehmet Karamanoglu, Middlesex University, added: “Being able to use our robotics and AI research expertise that will lead to tangible and practical outcomes is great to see.

“We are looking forward to helping make a significant contribution in tackling the challenges with rapid plastics identification and recycling.”

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