Recycling Robots?

Due to the growing landfill issue and their inadequate recycling methods, particularly with soft plastics that can easily get entangled in waste separation machinery, new recycling measures are currently being developed: robotics.

According to, researchers from the Centre for Internet of Things (IoT) and Telecommunications at the University of Sydney are creating an automatic robotic system that uses robotics and AI to sort recyclable waste. The team, which includes Professor Branka Vucetic, Professor Yonghui Li, Associate Professor Wanli Ouyang, Dr. Wanchun Liu, and Senior Technical Officer Dawei Tan from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, will work with industry partners as a part of a federal government Cooperative Research Centre Project grant. They’ll also work with waste management companies, IQRenew and CurbCycle, and tech developers Licella Holdings, Mike Ritchie and Associates, and Resource Recovery Design.

Professor Branch Vucetic, Professor Yonghui Li, and Associate Professor Wanli Ouyang advised the following regarding the project:

“The recycling robotic automation system will use artificial intelligence and computer vision to learn how to identify different forms of recycling waste, effectively learning how to ‘see’ and ‘sort’ waste, to create separate waste streams and maintain soft plastics’ purity so they can be recycled.”

“Soft plastics are a big contributor to landfill and have long been a challenge for the circular economy and waste management sector, as they have lacked an adequate and safe sorting method. Using the latest IoT techniques, we have created a custom robot to solve this issue.”

“Not only does our project divert household soft plastics from going to landfill; by creating a solution for the collection and sorting of waste with our industry and research partners, we’re also creating a sustainable supply chain that takes rubbish from households to end markets.”

“The robot will identify ‘CurbyTagged’ bags and differentiate sources of plastic, separating soft plastics from the fully co-mingled recyclables.”

After the soft plastics are separated from other waste, they will be used for advanced purposes, including being recycled into oils and other chemicals patented by Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor technology (Cat-HTR) created by Licella Holdings.

I will keep you all updated on any new findings.

Until Next Time…


Photo Credit:

University of Sydney. (2021, June 22). Recycling robot could help solve soft plastic waste crisis. PHYS.ORG. 


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