Unlocking real-time visibility into recycling’s material flow


Wednesday, Jun 1, 2022


9:30 am



Today, there’s still a crude understanding of the operational efficiency of materials recovery facilities, where recyclables are processed—weigh trucks on the way in and weigh commodities on the way out. Facilities cannot report the purity of the products with certainty without a tractable way to measure it aside from breaking open bales and auditing quality periodically. An accurate observer could deduce this by counting contamination prior to its deposit into a bunker, but this is financially intractable and operationally burdensome.

However, a computer vision system that can accurately detect everything it sees offers a solution, and it’s gaining traction. Operators are installing AI-powered computer vision systems throughout their facilities to analyze the inputs and outputs of relevant parts of the process to create a holistic view of where material is flowing, and most importantly, what’s in it. This development is making it possible to observe with individual scrutiny the inputs and outputs of a plant to inform actions that influence these quantities. As an industry, we’re still in the early stages of unlocking the power of AI, but better observability will lead to insights and closed-loop actions that continue to make current recycling operations more efficient.

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