United States – Following a successful pilot scheme, a second robotic system is being installed to sort food and beverage cartons at Dem-Con Companies, a recycler based in the US state of Minnesota. Once fully operational, the robot will be able to pick out 60 cartons per minute compared to the human average of 40.
Designed by AMP Robotics, the AMP Cortex robot sorts and picks cartons from the recycling stream for use in an array of products such as tissues, paper towels and other paper materials, as well as building and construction materials.
‘We are constantly looking at innovative ways to maximise recycling, and the AMP Cortex is proof of this,’ comments Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Companies. ‘This system will assure we are sorting every carton.’
The pilot was launched at Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver earlier this year. Through artificial intelligence, everything learned about identifying cartons can be transferred to other systems.
The robot is currently working 16 hours a day. This success at Alpine has led on to the second installation, as the robot continues to become better at identifying and sorting various shapes and brands of carton. Installation of the robotic sorter was made possible through a grant from the Carton Council of North America which comprises major carton manufacturers, including Elopak and Tetra Pak.
Artificial intelligence offers substantial opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of carton recycling, believes the industry body’s vice president of recycling projects Jason Pelz. ‘We view the growth of the AMP Cortex as a cost-effective, long-term way to continue to expand carton recycling, including making it possible for more facilities to come on board with carton recycling,’ he comments.
While the AMP Cortex is currently sorting only food and beverage cartons, it is learning from all the materials passing by and is therefore becoming smarter each day, according to Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics.
‘In the future,’ he says, ‘it will be able to not only sort other recyclables but also be programmed to pick out contaminants, such as plastic bags, leading to a more cost-effective and safer MRF environment for the humans working on the line.’