Recycling has become quite complex. Consumers and commercial businesses are trying their best to recycle better and smarter. Despite its many benefits to both the economy and the environment, when leaving recycling up to well-intentioned consumers and organizations the results are problematic.

According to Recycle Across America, recycling is a $200 billion industry in the U.S. It also generates seven to ten more jobs than landfills or waste-to-energy (WTE) plants. In areas that boast a strong recycling culture, there is less litter and waste going into our oceans.

Yet as dedicated as everyone is to recycling properly, bales of recycling waste continue to be contaminated, making them relatively unusable and nearly impossible to cost effectively export. Consumers find labels confusing and facilities are struggling with an ever-changing regulatory climate. It’s clear that a recycling sea-change is in order.

Recycling Needs a Revolution

While improved product labeling and better educating consumers on how to recycle are steps in the right direction, their benefits are likely short-lived especially when the rules of recycling can change at a moment’s notice. The solution lies in removing the variables from the recycling equation and replacing them with innovative technology.

RiverRoad is excited to partner with CleanRobotics whose TrashBot™ is positioned to be this recycling change-agent. The TrashBot™ uses advanced robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to take the recycling confusion out of the end-users hands. It sorts a wide variety of commercial waste and eliminates the eventual contamination right from the source – at the recycling bin. Click here to see the TrashBot in action.

By using cameras and sensors, the TrashBot scans items as they enter the waste bin. Each item is then sorted into its specific recycling class by use of artificial intelligence at an unbelievable 86% sorting accuracy rate. This rate is projected to continually improve as the technology learns and is refined. Data produced by the TrashBot will enable organizations to make better decisions about their recycling programs, likely saving them time and money while enabling them to redeploy human resources to more valued-added tasks.

Recycling Restrictions Are Here to Stay

Global recycling was thrown for major loop this year as China’s import ban took effect on January 1st with even more stringent restrictions implemented in March. After decades of accepting trash from all over the world, China has in essence said “no more” to contaminated plastics, unsorted paper, steel waste, and many more types of recyclable materials.

While many companies are still reeling from the news, others have taken a step back, re-examining policies and procedures in order to be in compliance, avoid major fines, as well as keep landfill use to a minimum. Many are redesigning products and analyzing their supply chains.

In and of themselves, these are all noble practices and it would behoove organizations from all industries to rethink their recycling practices. However, even with improvements in daily business operations, none are addressing the root cause: front-end contamination, which the TrashBot is poised to transform.

Dan McGowan

Chief Operating Officer