Recycling robots are the ‘future of the industry’

Paper, metal, cardboard, glass, plastics – if these are appropriately recycled, they can be reused again and again.

“We need to keep recycling at the forefront of our communities,” said John Hansen, co-owner of Single Stream Recyclers.

“It’s our hope,” said Scott Byrne, an environmental specialist at Tetra Pak Inc., “more items are diverted from a landfill and being made into new products.”

MORE: Curbing Your Costs: How recycling right could save you money

The goal is to compact all of the recyclables into bales. They are 1600 lbs. each, but first all of the items that aren’t recyclable need to be removed.

“In the recycling industry, it is very difficult to find a labor that actually wants to work on a sorting line picking garbage,” Hansen said.

That is where these recycling robots come in. They are the first in Florida. Six of these devices at the single-stream recycling facility sort through recyclables coming from several counties, including Charlotte and Collier.

“It’s easily twice is more effective than having a human in that situation,” said Hansen, who acknowledged the technology had replaced no human jobs.

The robots are programmed to recognize colors, textures, shapes and patterns. By being able to recognize these, it can identify food and beverage cartons, picking up 80 cartons per minute, which can later be reused as writing paper and paper towels.

“It’s helping economics,” said Brent Hildebrand, managing director of enterprise sales at AMP Robotics. “It is helping pull more items out of the stream.”

“Robots is going to be the future of the industry,” Hansen said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Michael Mora
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