Recycling Robot Separates Construction Waste

ZenRobotics robot separates construction waste

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The United States produces a staggering 325 million tons of construction waste annually, while the U.K. generates another 120 million tons.

A large percentage of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is recyclable, but sorting these materials can be an arduous task.

To improve recovery rates and sorting efficiency, Finnish technology company ZenRobotics Ltd. recently released what it calls the first robotic waste-sorting system in the world.

Designed for C&D waste, the intelligent robot arm called the ZenRobotics Recycler pulls recyclable material from a conveyor belt with the help of advanced machine learning technology.

The system currently sorts metal, wood and stone fractions, but the folks at ZenRobotics are making constant improvements to their sorter. When it learns to pick up new materials, customers can buy the new ability as an upgrade.

“It is already clear that clean technology will develop to a globally significant business sector. What is now needed is a national strategy for the development of environmental technology,” Jaakko Särelä, CEO of ZenRobotics, said in a press release. “Our robotic artificial intelligence–based recycling system is an excellent spearhead that Finland can use in its rush towards international acclaim in clean technology.”

SITA, Europe’s largest environmental solutions company, received the first ZenRobotics Recycler last year and will use the system to improve efficiency in C&D sorting.

At minimum, each sorter can reclaim 12,000 tons of raw materials annually — with the potential to sort up to 60,000 tons. As an added benefit, the system uses a surprisingly low amount of electricity and costs only $1.36 per hour to operate.

While the cost of the system and the relative newness of the technology mean it may not be sweeping the globe in the near future, the robotic sorter came away with the Global Cleantech Cluster Association’s coveted Later Stage Award for Best in Waste Management last month — indicating technology leaders worldwide are taking notice of its promise.

Feature image courtesy of ZenRobotics Ltd.

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Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni

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