How AI is being used in recycling centres to improve metal sorting

AI is proving it’s not a load of rubbish. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is everywhere, from helpful chatbots online to Siri and Alexa in our phones – and for the first time, it’s now being introduced in the recycling industry. 

Recycling companies SWEEEP Kuusakoski and Recycleye have launched a new way to sort waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Their cutting-edge technology utilises AI, combined with original waste-sorting equipment, to help detect different metals with ease. 

Recycling centres across the country already have various ways to sort through waste – from near-infrared (NIR) that detects different types of plastic, to manually sorting metals by hand. AI can now make these processes simpler and enable a higher volume of precious metals to be recovered. 

The AI optical sorter has been installed at a recycling sorting plant in Sittingbourne. They have combined existing technology, which sorts metals into high and low-value streams, with the AI system streamlining it further, detecting a purer high-value amount of metal waste. The new AI technology can even pick out batteries, which are hard to spot using the NIR as they are made of multiple materials, reducing the risk of fires at waste and recycling centres. 

Zoe Cook, the technical sales manager at Recycleye said: “This is an important milestone for the use of our AI and sorting technology. This successful application in the sorting of WEEE demonstrates that AI-powered sorting automation can be utilised to tackle even more waste categories, due to the flexibility to adapt machine learning models to different streams.”

This use of AI to solve real-world problems and purify waste streams could revolutionise the way waste is processed and sorted. 

For now though, until this technology is more widely available, here at Singleton’s we will keep sorting our scrap the way we have been for over 30 years. We reckon our team’s still better than any AI! Every day they sort and test scrap metal to ensure everything’s recycled correctly, and so our customers get the best price.

 If you want to know more about how we sort and organise our scrap, get in touch


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