Latvian companies develop “AI-based” deposit-refund system for plastics

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Two Latvian companies says they have found a solution based on artificial intelligence (AI) to what it calls the “two main global problems” regarding plastic packaging.

Technology company, dots, and the process engineering and equipment manufacturing companyPERUZA says they have manufactured a prototype of a packaging deposit-refund system that can recognise and collect different kinds of packaging, not only packaging of certain types of beverages.

The recognition deposit-refund system (DRS) is based on AI and is able to identify the material of packaging, the companies say.

Our system can currently recognise, collect and sort 0,5l and/or 1,5l PET bottles, 5l plastic bottles, 1,5l plastic canisters, as well as aluminium cans, cardboard Tetra Pak, glass bottles and jars
The system has been designed in response to what the companies call the “two main global problems” regarding plastic packaging: how to reduce the volume of plastic production; and secondly, how to collect it effectively so that as little plastic as possible enters the environment.

It says the AI-based DRS will make collection of plastic waste more effective and therefore make a significant contribution to the implementation of the proposed EU single-use plastic directive.

Robert Dlohi, CEO of PERUZA says the problem of existing DRS verse vending machines is that they can collect only one type of packaging, using the product barcode for recognition.

“Our system can currently recognise, collect and sort 0,5l and/or 1,5l PET bottles, 5l plastic bottles, 1,5l plastic canisters, as well as aluminium cans, cardboard Tetra Pak, glass bottles and jars,” Robert says.

“We have also foreseen situations when packaging appears in the system that it cannot recognise. For that we have created a separate bin for unsorted waste.”

Another demo reverse vending machine, created by Baltic AI developer, APPLY, uses machine learning and deep learning technologies to recognise different waste and sort them regardless of how much the packaging has been damaged.

Vismands Menjoks, chief commercial cfficer of APPLY, says: “We built this machine to recognise the most common waste on the streets like coffee cups, PET bottles, aluminium cans, Tetra Pak and drinking yogurt carton bottles.

“This system doesn’t limit itself to drink packaging as most systems currently do. This means that any type of packaging can be put into the system and it will find the right way to deal with it.

“In future, the system will be developed to be able to separate glass packaging that can be used repeatedly from recyclable glass. Later, we are planning to add spectral analysis to detect high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and separate it from the other types of polymers or other materials such as metals.”

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