Meet the Recycle Bots

The world is facing a recycling crisis. Ever since China set new standards on the acceptable level of contamination for recycled goods far out of reach of the current product stream, cities around the world are struggling to find a solution. As reported in this blog, huge piles of burning plastic have been turning up in developing nations which has since lead to a backlash, with countries such as Thailand banning the import of foreign recyclable waste. To sort efficiently and recycle material domestically has become so expensive in the vacuum left by China’s policy reversal that many municipalities have had to scrap their recycling programs (pun intended), or worse- still collect bins full of recycled waste only to turn around and dump it in the landfill.
While Green Fund Finance is proud to partner with Swestep, which can transform plastics into renewable diesel, there remains a great need to improve the world’s recycling system for products other than plastics. Meet Rocycle, artificially intelligent recycle sorting robot of the future. Developed at MIT by PhD student Lillian Chin, Rocycle uses a combination of cameras and touch sensors, both of which continue to train the artificial intelligence within its onboard computer, to determine the composition of the material passing by on a conveyor belt. And Rocycle isn’t the only recycling sorting AI in use today. Recology, in the San Francisco Bay Area, AMP-Robotics, a Denver-based company, and Waste Management, the US’s largest recycling company, are all working to develop their own AI assisted recycling sorting streams.
The effect is huge. By doubling, or in some cases tripling, the efficiency of the average human sorter the value of the material coming off the AI-assisted sorting lines can double or triple in value. Together with the additional saving on labor and there is new hope that our recycling systems can once again become profitable.
So here’s a shout out: any entrepreneurs out there looking for investment capital to move their recycling AI forward? Any investors out there looking fund such a start-up? Green Fund Finance would love to hear from you. The future will undoubtedly be laced with and inseparable from AI in its many flavors. Why shouldn’t AI assist in recycling too? Happily, we see the chance to achieve the ever elusive double bottomline- profit and technology to help save our planet.
Take a deeper dive into this issue by checking out MSNBCs article, “America is drowning in garbage”, here.