The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is creating a shift in all industries, including recycling. More recycling facilities are utilizing robots to substitutes for human workers that are at risk of handing items possibly contaminated by COVID-19.
One company is renting AI-enhanced robots to sort through trash to find items that need to be recycled. The founder and CEO of AMP Robotics, Matanya Horowitz, is developing more robotic systems to solve issues within the recycling industry.
Horowitz goes into detail about the issues with robots being present in the recycling industry because every piece of material is different, making it hard to determine what’s recyclable or waste. This issue is being solved with the help of AI technology to make the robots perform more accurately with deep learning algorithms to helps robots perform better after learning mistakes.
This AI system has a database of millions of examples of recycling that the robots should be looking for. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, automating human jobs was focused on cutting costs but is now being utilized to continue work without endangering workers.
Utilizing AI robots can help reshape understaffed companies that cannot employ enough people to do these jobs in less favorable work environments for humans. COVID-19 is presenting more unfavorable workplaces that are already understaffed.
Most of these facilities have human workers standing close together and robots can save space without overcrowding the workspace. Another benefit of automating the recycling industry can help to reduce future pollution caused by national outsourcing their garbage disposal abroad.
Western Europe and the US recycle their waste by shipping it to poorer nations for processing where the cost of labor is lower for sorting. Most of the outsourced countries have poo waste management infrastructure so their cost of disposal would cover the recyclable items but they wouldn’t dispose of the garbage properly.
A low cost of disposal is more likely to use less sustainable means of disposal such as dumping it in a river. Disposing of waste in the US is more regulated and avoids the need for outsourcing disposal and labor.
This new AI recycling sorting system helps create a competitive edge to lower the cost of sorting making domestic processing of material more possible. This new system was thriving before COVID-19 but is creating conditions to integrate this technology to improve the recycling processing system.
The solution system can help cut the cost to create a healthier recycling industry while cutting the waste through transportation. Technology can help to improve this industry in need of workers and making it more sustainable for a smaller carbon footprint.