The ‘circular economy’ is a term used to describe a system for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design. In relation to plastic waste it means eliminating waste and finding options for the continual use of resources.
To help achieve this goal there is a need to be able to classify plastic waste (‘waste recognition’) quickly, efficiently and correctly to create markets for its sale. Such a classification system would enable confidence to be built with producers to allow plastic waste to be re-used rather than ‘raw’ materials sourced to generate more plastic products.
We are looking to develop a waste recognition and classification system (‘Smart Waste Station’) which includes portable infrared sensing smart devices. These will sense plastic waste and assign it the correct classification using image processing technology and artificial intelligence.
Often referred to as machine learning, application of this technology will enable large volumes of plastic waste to be assessed and classified, enable audits to be completed, and provide records to potential customers, enhancing confidence and certainty in the product.
It is anticipated that a web and mobile app will be created alongside this waste recognition system to promote ease of use. It will provide details such as recycle types, quantities and locations to enable wide application. Waste management organisations will also have access to a data management platform and dashboard to manage and maintain plastic waste classification data.