Human beings create huge amounts of waste. In the United States alone, there are thousands of landfills, many of which secrete damaging methane gas that goes out into the environment and harms the atmosphere. Last year, 50 billion plastic water bottles were used in America and over 80 percent of those ended up in landfills instead of being recycled. Even when garbage is recycled, most solid waste plants don’t have the capability or money to use industrial spectrometers for sorting garbage and must rely on human labor, which is inefficient and costly.
What’s being done?
Fortunately, a few companies are working on developing robotic technology that makes this sorting process much easier. ZenRobotics, is “the world’s leading supplier of robotic waste separation technology,” and they use robotic arms that utilize machine learning and computer vision to pick out recycled materials from conveyor lines. This type of AI quickly learns what types of materials it needs to pick out and can self-teach. They’ve even made a trailer and film that gives insight into this technology and what it can do. These robots function completely independently and require no human supervision or interference when sorting the recyclables.
Another company working on similar technology is Sadako Technologies, and they’ve also created a short video about their technology, which can be viewed on their website. Like ZenRobotics, the company works on AI garbage sorting technology, but on a smaller scale than ZenRobotics. Sadako’s website claims that their technology is already doing better than human workers and predicts that trash sorting will be a completely automatic process in a few years, if the technology costs can be lowered.
Another company, AMP Robotics, say they’re working on an inexpensive solution while using software and robotic technology that’s easier to access. AMP Robotics’s focus is on the U.S.’s trash industry, hoping to offer a solution for the large amount of recyclable materials that go to waste. Their goal is reducing the amount of trash that goes into landfills in the first place, offering a concrete solution that doesn’t depend on costs of hardware going down.
Once these companies streamline their technology, it’s estimated that significant amounts of money will be saved in the waste industry, allowing that money to be put toward other departments and projects.