Recycling is a top priority among environmental activists, but it is also a concern in the manufacturing industry. As more goods become available through online ordering, retail spending has continued to rise, and with it, more waste is generated. On top of that, the availability of food delivery services has led to more people ordering food items to their homes and business, the results of which can generate increased food waste mixed in with recyclables. This can ultimately make recycling more difficult using traditional methods.
In terms of retail goods, much of the waste created is derived from packaging, but shipping materials used to transport goods from manufacturers to warehouses and warehouses to homes and businesses are also a concern. Much of the material used for shipping these days is recyclable, but sorting through all of this recyclable material can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
An AI-Driven Recycling Sort Process
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a growing technology trend that is being implemented across more and more industries. In the recycling industry, a recycle robot that takes advantage of AI can sort through items and easily identify recyclables based on conditions like shape, size, reflective surface properties, color and surface tension of materials. This may lead to improved efficiency as well as a higher degree of accuracy in sorting.
While the human eye can only scan a very limited surface area as items move past on a belt system to be picked for recycling, AI scanning technology can identify recyclables on a much wider field at a much faster pace. Additionally, robot recycling pickers can react faster to remove recyclables from a group of items as the group moves along.
Justifying The Need And Expense For Recycling Robots
One of the biggest deterrents to making the switch from traditional recycling sorting machine systems to AI-powered systems is the initial cost. Because these technologies are still fairly new and are evolving, they can be expensive, but the expense can be justified.
This justification often comes in the form of lower costs that stem from utilizing fewer recycling center workers. AI recycling robots may also lead to increased productivity and higher accuracy resulting in fewer errors and less time wasted resetting machinery. Insurance costs may be lower for centers that utilize robot recycling since liability for injuries may become less of an issue.
It may also be possible to streamline some processes and equipment when using AI and robotic technology to sort, pull and recycle items. When humans are required to handle these tasks, machinery needs to be set up in a way that allows for special access, but robotic arms and cameras may not need as much space within which to operate efficiently. This can mean savings on space requirements and associated costs. These savings can be invested in AI recycling technology to offset initial investment costs.
Robot Recycling To Overcome Labor Shortages
Another benefit of using a recycle robot system is that these systems can be beneficial when facing labor shortages. As has been seen by the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, industries of all types experienced a shortage of labor well into 2021 and even 2022 as businesses struggled to recover from the closures, restrictions and lockdowns caused by SARS-CoV-2.
For recycling centers, this has meant that waste management became more strained due to more people purchasing items online and shipping materials ending up at recycling facilities. AI and robotics have been used in some cases to deal with the uptick in recycling materials passing through disposal facilities, but it has also been used to overcome labor shortages in areas where attracting or recovering talent has been challenging for recycling center employers.
The Future Of Recycling Robots
As AI and robotic technology continues to evolve in the recycling industry, there will undoubtedly be an increase in efficiency when it comes to picking and recycling materials. Due to the strengths and benefits of AI-driven recycle robot technology, facilities may require fewer human team members, but how drastic this reduction will affect the labor market remains to be seen.