Plastic Sorting Robot Helps Out In Proper Plastics Recycling

Tired of peering at the bottom on your take-out containers, trying to figure out whether you can recycle them or not? Lucky for us, an earth-friendly new robot from Osaka, Japan, may soon make such annoyances obsolete.

According to Green Diary, researchers at the Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Corp. and Osaka University have joined forces to create a device capable of identifying various plastic materials mixed in amongst trash and sorting them into piles–a robot that uses laser sensing technology to distinguish between various types of plastic based on the reflectivity of five different wavelengths.

Plastics_Recycling_Robot

image via Osaka University

This is great news for the earth, as the plastics that are most widely recycled these days–PET and PS–are not the ones most widely used, comprising just 5% and 7.6% of total plastic production, respectively. The plastics that fall into the largest production category– PE and PP, making up 23% and 22%, respectively–have apparently not been recycled at all until now, as they can’t be distinguished by from one another by the human eye.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.