How AI is helping to cut solid waste
Rahul Pathak in Lisbon

It's one of the most pressing issues facing the environment and needs urgent attention.

The world produces over 2 billion tonnes of solid waste every year and that is only set to grow as the population gets bigger.


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Toxic problem

Landfill sites contaminate the earth and release toxic methane gas which is even more harmful than carbon dioxide.

The future of recycling has been the subject of debate at this year's Web Summit in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. GreyParrot is a tech company that is looking to embrace the latest technology to help turn the tide on this issue.

Its Chief Product Officer Ambarish Mitra has helped to implement machine learning to improve the sorting process of waste to make the recycling industry more efficient.

"Artificial intelligence has played a massive role in waste management because the majority of the waste management industry is a mechanical industry," he tells CGTN Europe.

"And there is a lot of waste and the majority of recyclable products do not get recycled, because what cannot be measured cannot be sold, and that's why this problem has not been solved."

The recent advances in technology mean that robots can now differentiate between most types of plastics, resins, and paper.

So, facilities can work more efficiently and run for longer. This in turn makes the sector more profitable, allowing more recycling plants to be built.

Persuading big businesses to recycle using AI

One of the global market leaders in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in this sector is AMP Robotics.

It has been able to adapt more traditional facilities to incorporate this new technology with relatively little investment needed.

The uptake has been impressive, and CEO Matanya Horowitz says the economy of scale bodes extremely well for this vital industry.

"You will see more materials accepted into those recycling programmes, so dirtier and dirtier materials become more valuable. So you will find more people will access to recycling," he tells CGTN.  

"The business will fundamentally be stronger. And people in the recycling business will be hunting for material flows, and less and less will be asked from the consumer," he adds.

For the environment and the health of the planet, the AI revolution in waste management cannot come soon enough.

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