The AI trained to recognize waste for recycling
A staggering amount of waste is produced globally each year, and it’s difficult to comprehend the scale. According to the World Bank, approximately 2.24 billion tons of solid waste were produced in 2020, and it is estimated that this number will increase by 73% by 2050, reaching 3.88 billion tons. Plastic is one of the major culprits in this scenario. From the start of large-scale production of this material in the 1950s until 2015, researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of California calculated that over 8.3 billion tons of plastic waste were produced.
Mikela Druckman, founder of Greyparrot, a British startup specializing in waste processing and recycling analysis, is not surprised by these statistics. She has spent a lot of time studying what we discard daily. According to her: “In a single day, literally mountains of waste pass through a single facility, and the shocking and surprising thing is that it never stops. There is no holiday for waste; it just keeps coming.”
Greyparrot uses cameras placed above conveyor belts at approximately 50 disposal and recycling sites across Europe, utilizing artificial intelligence to analyze in real-time what passes through them. Mikela Druckman acknowledges that training a system to recognize waste is still challenging, especially when a product like a soda bottle, for example, is crushed and dirty after being thrown away.
Currently, Greyparrot’s systems track 32 billion discarded objects per year, and the company has built an enormous digital map of waste. This information can be used by waste managers to increase operational efficiency and influence packaging design. Mikela Druckman states: “We talk about climate change and waste management as separate things, but they are actually interconnected because a significant reason why we are using resources is that we are not recovering them.”
It is expected that major brands and other manufacturers will start using data generated by companies like Greyparrot to create more reusable products. Another interesting initiative comes from Polytag, a British company that covers plastic bottles with ultraviolet tags invisible to the human eye. When these bottles reach designated recycling facilities, the tags are read by Polytag machines, and the number of bottles is sent in real-time to a cloud-based application.
In this context, the UK government and the administrations of Wales and Northern Ireland plan to launch a reverse deposit scheme in 2025 to facilitate recycling and encourage people’s participation. Consumers will be able to deposit used plastic bottles into machines located in stores and public areas and receive a payment of around 20 cents per item.
However, even with these initiatives, the search for sustainable waste disposal solutions remains challenging. New trends, such as the increasing consumption of e-cigarettes, are creating an ever-growing amount of electronic waste that is difficult to recycle. According to Ray Parmenter of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management, disposable e-cigarettes are basically opposed to the circular economy, as they are composed of diverse materials such as plastic, metals, lithium batteries, and even electronic components.
Awareness and a change in mindset are necessary not only from the industry and policymakers but also from consumers. Consuming less is the most significant change we can make to tackle this waste crisis. We need to rethink our patterns.
|Resumo da Notícia
|Quantidade de lixo produzido globalmente em 2020: 2,24 bilhões de toneladas
|Estimativa de aumento de resíduos até 2050: 73%, alcançando 3,88 bilhões de toneladas
|8,3 bilhões de toneladas de resíduos plásticos produzidos desde 1950 até 2015
|Greyparrot utiliza câmeras e inteligência artificial para analisar resíduos em tempo real
|32 bilhões de objetos descartados rastreados anualmente pela Greyparrot
|Depósito reverso será lançado no Reino Unido em 2025 para facilitar a reciclagem
|Aumento do consumo de cigarros eletrônicos cria desafios para o descarte de lixo eletrônico
|Mudança de mentalidade e consumo consciente são necessários para enfrentar a crise dos resíduos
Com informações do site Yahoo News.