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AMP Robotics was recently named a finalist in Fast company2021 World-Changing Ideas Awards. The company’s breakthrough innovation is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform – a robot – that enables plastic packaging to be sorted more efficiently in material recovery systems (MRFs) and other recycling facilities through secondary sorting. This is an advanced automation that enables the AI to be economical sort through small amounts of residues or mixed plastics, around polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS). The company says its secondary facilities can cut recovery costs while separating pollutants and making high quality bales of recycled material for resale.
Innovation is the key to improving the recycling infrastructure
New business models and improved traditional and advanced recycling technologies are key to achieving our goals. America’s plastics manufacturers have set a goal that all plastic packaging in the U.S. will be reused, recycled, or reclaimed by 2040. To achieve this goal, we started testing secondary sorting programs as part of the solution. In response to the urgent need to improve U.S. recycling rates, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) worked with the Plastics Industry Association, Americas Styrenics, Berry Global, Carton Council, LyondellBasell and Metro in 2019 to create a portable secondary sorting system to be installed at the Far West Recycling Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Oregon. The Pacific Northwest Waste (PNW) sorting used a portable Secondary MRF, operating for 60 days in Portland, receiving, sorting and measuring the possible recovery from two types of material streams from four MRFs in Oregon and Washington. Titus MRF Services operated the facility and provided the equipment for the project.
The results reported last year showed:
- Increase material recovery or landfill diversion by more than 50,000 tonnes (100 million pounds) per year, the equivalent of 2,500 truckloads of reclaimed material destined for recycling facilities.
- Increase recovery rates by 3% to 6% with no major program changes or investments.
- Reduce greenhouse gas production by more than 130,000 tons per year; This corresponds to a decrease of more than 27,600 cars from the road.
- Allow the list of accepted materials to expand in the future without upgrading primary MRFs
- Taking responsibility for all recyclable materials collected and eliminating the risk of potential mismanagement and pollution.
Maintaining momentum is critical
FastCompany’s recognition of Amp AI shows that Amp brought the right innovation to market at the right time. We know that value can be gained from landfill and mixed materials. In addition, the disruption of recycling markets caused by China’s sword opens up new opportunities in the United States. Our roadmap shows a course towards a circular economy for plastics that will help reduce waste, minimize landfill and preserve the benefits of plastics for society.
A circular economy for plastics
Plastics manufacturers and other companies are currently pursuing announced investments of $ 5.2 billion in US plastics recycling infrastructure over the past three years. As a result, we are seeing growth in domestic processing. Of course, more is needed and our industry is working hard to continue this trend through investment, new technology and ongoing commitments to use more recycled content. Activities like those of Amp AI and others that increase recycling rates, create new value streams for materials and grow end markets are a step in the right direction. If we do that, the important societal benefits of plastics can be realized while helping to keep plastics out of the environment.