Italian waste management company Masotina partnered with ZenRobotics to produce an AI-powered robotic sorting station.

Italian waste management firm Masotina partnered with Finnish automation company ZenRobotica in order to retrofit their sorting facility with an AI-powered sorting station.

Considered one of the largest material recovery facilities in Europe, Masotina’s S.p.A plant is responsible for sorting, separating and processing household waste plastics for recycling. In recent years, the company has been making strategic investments in advanced automation technology.

The Milan based Masotina plant separates plastic scrap from other materials including, paper, old corrugated containers (OCC), aluminium cans and foil, and inert materials. The inclusion of a ZenRobotics station to the existing operation is intended to reduce reliance on manual sorting by eliminating contaminants and recyclable polymers such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from the get-go.

This is what ZenRobotics CEO Jarmo Ruohonen had to say about the collaboration: “We were pleased to see that our robotics technology matches the rigorous sorting ambitions of Masotina. We strongly believe that smart robotics has enormous potential to recover more and more recyclable materials. The Masotina S.p.A facility is a perfect example of how existing MRFs can make use of the latest technology to improve their efficiency and economics in waste sorting.”

The role of smart robots

Every year, 1,3 billion tonnes of waste materials are generated. It’s a staggering amount and one ill-suited to be dealt with by conventional manual waste picking and sorting mechanisms. Automated robots such as the one pioneered by ZenRobotics, equipped with computer vision and making use of artificial intelligence prove to be more efficient in the long term. Artificial Vision is better in so far as it speeds up the plastic recognition process according to type while providing better precision at the identification stage. Plastic picking with regards to quality control of recycled material as well as separation according to recycling stream is manual labour that brings people into direct contact with waste, requiring people to lift heavy objects-the arduous nature of the job invariably leads to efficiency loss along the line which can be counteracted by the use of smart technology.

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