Can AI be used to collect plastic waste?

Plastic waste poses a major challenge across both land and sea. According to siliconcanals.com, last year, scientists calculated the total amount of plastics produced since 1950 and the result is 8.3 billion metric ton. Unfortunately, about three-quarters of this has now become waste.

At present, there are two main global problems regarding plastic packaging. Firstly, how to reduce the volume of production of this material. Secondly, how to collect it effectively so that as little plastic as possible enters the environment.

Ten European countries have implemented deposit return schemes. The number is growing. However, the resolution of the European Union is that by 2030 all plastic packaging placed on the market should be reusable or recyclable. According to the study “PlasticsEurope” conducted in 2014, Europe produces 25 million tonnes of plastic waste. Only 30% of this is recycled, 39% is incinerated and 31% is dumped into landfills.

Why are plastics slow in degrading?

The chemical structure of most plastics renders them resistant to many natural degradation processes, as a result of which they are slow to degrade. Plastics often contain additives, making them stronger, more flexible and durable. But many of these additives can extend the life of products if they become litter, estimating that it could take at least 400 years for them to disintegrate. This has resulted in the high prominence of plastic pollution in the environment.

Fortunately, start-ups around the world have now found a solution based on AI to make collection of plastic waste more effective.

According to Silicon Canals, two companies in Latvia have manufactured a prototype of the packaging deposit-refund system that can recognize and collect different kinds of packaging not only packaging of certain types of beverages. The recognition system is based on AI and it recognizes the material of packaging.