Sustainability

Five of the best new products at RWM 2018

RWM 2018 saw two days of exhibits and talks displaying some of the latest innovations in the waste and resources sector. Here are five of the best new products that piqued our interest

The Rice Way

Five of the best new products at RWM 2018
As the world desperately looks for sustainable plastics alternatives to disposable plastics, The Rice Way presents a range of eco-friendly travel mugs made from rice husk, making use of a significant and under-utilised waste stream.

Rice is the most commonly eaten daily foodstuff around the world, with 478 million tonnes of rice produced every year, 20 per cent of which is husk. Every year, 95 million tonnes of rice husk become waste.

The Rice Way makes use of this underused resource to create a sustainable material by combining grinded rice husks with a 100 per cent natural resin to make a compact and hard material, which is then moulded into cup shape at high temperature. The material is 100 per cent biodegradable in nature, not just in industrial composting or digestion facilities.

EHS Data MonitorPro

As data becomes more and more important to informing waste management solutions, applications that consolidate the raft of data out there are becoming all the more in demand. EHS Data’s software solution, MonitorPro, allows companies and organisations to monitor, analyse and report on any form of data all in one place, streamlining their environmental management systems and allowing them to act as efficiently as possible.

The MonitorPro has such functions as a scheduling facility for data monitoring, customisable graphs to present data in an easily understandable way, multi-format reporting and field data entry that does not require an internet connection. These functions and more combine to provide a comprehensive solution for a waste company’s data.

GreCon Spark Extinguishing System BS7

Fire safety is paramount in the waste industry, where masses of dry materials are bundled together, creating a fire risk. To provide a technical solution to this issue, GreCon has created a Spark Detection and Extinguishing System to prevent fire risks turning into actual fires.

Five of the best new products at RWM 2018

The system detects ignition sources before they become fires through a series of special sensors that can be placed at any stage of the production process. These sensors and monitors can activate a high-speed water extinguishing device in case of ignition. Where materials are being moved, the system can also initiate a diversion or shut-off of the product flow where water extinguishment is impractical.

Responses to risks are activated by a four-fold graduated alarm system and can, largely, be implemented without interrupting the production process, while filters and storage silos can also be monitored and protected during production downtimes.

Machinex SamurAI waste sorting robot

The influence of new technologies on the waste industry was a hot topic at RWM this year, with blockchain, the Internet of Things, driverless vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI) all gaining time in the spotlight. In this vein, sorting systems provider Machinex showcased its new materials handling robot, called the SamurAI, which utilises AI technology to identify and sort different materials.

The product is described as a ‘self-aware sorting robot’ that can identify distinguishing features of different materials even in dirty conditions with commingled recyclable and residual waste. Potential applications include recovering recyclables from a waste stream or as a quality control measure, extracting items from among contaminants. Moreover, the machine will apparently learn from its operating experience as new packaging and designs are added, while generating crucial data on material stream composition.

The robot can be integrated into existing lines, with a modular structure meaning more segments can be added according to the client’s specific requirements. Machinex claims that the SamurAI can achieve an average of 70 picks per minute, in comparison to a human sorter’s 35-pick average.

Way to Eco’s WasteGuru app

Using technology in a different but equally innovative way is environmental consultancy firm Way to Eco. Looking at waste from a social angle, the team at Way to Eco noted that while more and more people are expressing a desire to recycle, knowledge about how exactly to do so is still lacking – indeed, according to the company, only 33 per cent of people in the UK take the time to research which bin to use when they are not sure of an item’s recyclability.

With this in mind, the company has developed a mobile app designed to tackle this information gap, educating and informing people about waste management and the end of life destinations for their everyday items. WasteGuru uses geolocation software and barcode scanning to show users how and where to recycle more than one million specific products in their area.

Users can see which bin to use for their items, as well as information about local repair, reuse and recycling services, for instance for those products that can’t be collected at the kerbside. Other interesting features include the ability to set auto reminders for your bin collection days and to add new products into the app’s database.

The app is already in use in some municipalities in Italy and Switzerland, where subscribing local authorities promote it to residents as an information system and also use it to collate data about recycling levels and habits – one Italian municipality, using the app as part of a new recycling scheme since August 2016, apparently saw a rise in recycling from 44 per cent to 71 per cent in nine months.