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High-speed cameras identify 100 000 pieces of glass per minute

Irish glass recycler Glassco has opened a state-of-the-art EUR 2 million facility in Naas, west of Dublin. Claimed to be the world’s first recycling plant dedicated to process non-transparent glass scrap, the facility will reduce the amount of glass going to landfill and the company says an additional 10 000 tonnes of previously discarded glass will be recycled each year.

Tough to recycle

Non-transparent glass, which is very dark and typically used to package cream liqueurs, blocks sunshine and light that cause the product inside to deteriorate quickly. It is ideal for protecting the contents of the bottle but is not easy to recycle.

Glassco says it is the first company to supply the glass manufacturing industry with pure dark non-transparent cullet as a separate colour stream, ‘offering energy savings to glass bottle manufacturers’.

No more landfilling 

‘Glass recyclers like us rely on optical sorting machines to automatically remove contamination from the waste glass stream,’ says Glassco’s managing director Zeki Mustafa. ‘Until now, these machines were unable to differentiate between non-transparent glass and a stone or piece of ceramic, which meant that all the dark non-transparent glass ended up being rejected and landfilled’.

20 000 scans per second

The installation includes high-speed cameras capable of more than 20 000 scans per second to identify up to 100 000 pieces of glass per minute which are then removed for recycling. In combination with special LED lighting technology, the cameras can produce several optical measurements of each piece of glass.

Smart algorithm

To gether with a new sophisticated evaluation algorithm using artificial intelligence, this system can now do what was previously impossible: differentiate between the problematic dark glass and ceramic, stone and porcelain (CSP) pieces.

Recycling boost

Mustafa says he is happy to pioneer this new technology ‘to help Ireland exceed the EU glass recycling target of 75% by 2025 and continue to push past our current rate of 90%’.

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