22/09/21 - News in Brief

re3 and Recycleye partner to deliver England’s first retrofittable AI waste-picking robot

re3 has announced the installation of England’s first retrofittable AI-powered robotic waste picking system of its kind at its Material Recycling Facility (MRF) in Reading.

re3, the waste management partnership between FCC Environment and Bracknell Forest, Reading and Wokingham Borough Councils, partnered with waste management start-up Recycleye to install the system.

The waste-picking robot, known as Recycleye Robotics, is able to perform the physical tasks of identifying, picking and placing materials at a rate of 55 picks per minute. The picking system is powered by Recycleye Vision, an AI computer vision system that detects all individual items on waste streams by material and object. The AI system sits on top of the facility’s existing conveyor belts, providing the site with total visibility of their waste streams.

Commenting on the announcement, FCC Environment’s General Manager for re3 Rory Brien, said: “We are thrilled to have installed the first AI-powered waste robot in England on behalf of re3.

“In our commitment to continual improvement and innovation at FCC Environment, we believe that it is important to be forward-thinking and adapt to new technologies, especially when it will help to improve the efficiency of the recycling progress.”

Victor Dewulf, CEO of Recycleye said: “The installation of Recycleye Robotics at re3’s Reading facility showcases how such technology can deliver genuine benefits to local authorities and waste management companies across the UK.

“Recycleye has partnered with FANUC, one of the world’s largest robotic manufacturers, to develop a retrofittable and affordable automated sorting solution for the waste management industry.”

Belgium to enforce ban on single-use plastics

The Belgian government has announced that it will be introducing a ban on single-use plastic over the coming year.

Minister of the Environment, Zakia Khattabi, approved a draft royal decree relating to the reduction of single-use products and the promotion of reusable alternatives last Friday (17 September).

The decree aims to transpose into Belgian law two European directives (2015/720 and 2019/904) which aim to fight the dispersion of plastics into the environment, with particular attention to the aquatic and marine environments.

Directive 2015/720 aims to reduce the use of lightweight plastic bags and will see the Belgian government banning those with handles, bar extremely light plastic bags; reusable bags that comply with EU standard EN 13429; and bags issued in airports for security reasons.

Directive 2019/904 aims to reduce and ban the consumption of certain single-use products, focussing on oxodegradable plastics. The Belgian government will enforce a ban on marketing single-use plastics 10 days after the publication of the decree, slated for late 2021 or early 2022. The banned plastics include cotton buds; cutlery; plates; mixing sticks; balloon holders; polystyrene food containers; and polystyrene bottles.

The decree will also see the government introduce obligations that caps and lids remain attached to certain containers, as well as mandatory recycled content for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

Marking for a series of single-use items will also be introduced, alerting consumers to the presence of plastic within the product. This will cover sanitary towels; tampons; tampon applicators; wipes; dishrags; and tobacco filters.

Vendors have been presented with a one-year grace period from the date of the decree’s promulgation, largely to get rid of stock.

Paper containers with metal ends now accepted at Merseyside recycling Bring Banks

14 Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across Merseyside have launched a new recycling service for paper containers with metal ends, such as Pringles tubes; hot chocolate; nuts; and other products.

Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority has introduced the service in partnership with Veolia and the Alliance for Beverage Cartons & the Environment (ACE UK).

Material collected from the Bring Banks is sent to ACE UK’s Stainland recycling facility in West Yorkshire, which is run by Sonoco Alcore. Fibre from the recycled cartons is fed directly into Sonoco Alcore’s paper mill on the same site, to be turned into industrial coreboard.

Councillor Tony Concepcion, Chairperson of MRWA, commented: “Previously, paper containers with metal ends - such as Pringles tubes - could not be recycled in our region, but we were keen to take this opportunity to include them. Merseyside residents have always responded well to the different schemes we’ve implemented at our HWRCs, and we hope that they will take full advantage of this new service.”

Richard Hands, CEO of ACE UK, said: “ACE UK has been successfully running the industry’s recycling programme for the last 15 years, driving significant increases in carton recycling as part of its role as the UK’s food and drink carton industry trade body. We have worked closely with local authorities and waste management companies so that today 93 per cent of local authorities collect food and drink cartons for recycling through either Bring Banks or kerbside collection.”