Application of Artificial Intelligence to Automated Waste Recycling

EPA Contract Number: 68D40074
Title: Application of Artificial Intelligence to Automated Waste Recycling
Investigators: Sommer, Edward J.
Small Business: National Recovery Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1994 through July 1, 1997
Project Amount: $164,937
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1994) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , SBIR - Waste , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that a program of waste treatment consisting of source reduction, recycling, volume reduction, and landfilling be applied, in that order, in the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW). Effective recycling of the various recyclable components of MSW presents numerous challenges. Automated technology exists for efficient extraction of steel, aluminum, compostable food waste, and some paper products from MSW. These items make up the bulk of MSW. However, the only method known to effectively recover whole glass and plastic containers from MSW is to manually handpick them from the waste as it passes on a conveyor belt along a series of manned handsorting stations.

The innovation explored in the Phase I research program and proposed to further developed as a prototype in Phase II utilizes the ability of high speed electronics coupled with sophisticated computer and mechanical technology to automatically identify and extract whole glass and plastic containers from MSW. This system can be used to emulate the major techniques used by humans to identify the containers during the handpicking operation. This could result in a high speed cost effective method of automatic removal of glass and plastic containers from MSW.

Supplemental Keywords:

Recycling, Plastics, Sorting, Resin, Automation, Municipal Solid Waste, Materials Handling, Glass., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, Municipal, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemistry and Materials Science, Environmental Engineering, municipal waste plastics, waste recycling, materials handling, plastics sorting, plastic containers, sorting system, municipal waste, plastic, automated waste recycling, recycling, plastics, whole glass, artificial intelligence techniques

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Application of Artificial Intelligence to Automated Waste Recycling