Evansville First in Indiana to Robotically Sort Single-Stream Recycling
The City of Evansville just got a major upgrade when it comes to recycling plastics and helping our planet, all while also benefiting our local economy too. The new AMP robotic sortation system is the first of its kind in the state of Indiana at a single-stream recycling facility.
Funded in part by Berry Global, a Fortune 500 manufacturer of plastic products, and in addition to a matching grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the new robotic sorting system is designed to separate #5 polypropylene (PP) plastics for recycling. This type of plastic is used in everything from plastic food storage containers to bottlecaps. According to Everyday Recycler, #5 plastics include:
- Yogurt containers
- Margarine containers
- Syrup bottles
- Bottle Caps
- Tupperware and other plastic food containers
- Take away food containers
- Disposable cups and plates
You can identify #5 plastics by looking for the recycling symbol (chasing arrows) with the number 5 in the center of it. The new system can also sort out #2 Polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PETE plastics, and #3 high-density Polyethylene or HDPE. Examples of #2 PETE plastics include beverage bottles, shampoo & conditioner bottles and peanut butter jars and can be identified by the number 2 within the chasing arrow symbol, according to Everyday Recycle. They also say that #3 HDPE plastics are used to make things like outdoor furniture, milk and juice containers, hard hats and more. These plastics can be identified with the number 3 inside the chasing arrows symbol.
Berry Global wasn't the only local company to contribute to the new robotic system. Tri-State Resource Recovery contributed to provide the air compressor and the transformer that are necessary to support the robotic system. In the video, titled "The Journey to a Circular Economy Starts Here," you can see how the robot identifies and sorts out the plastics, using artificial intelligence as well as a vision system to sort up to 80 items per minute. Once recycled, Berry Plastics will then buy the recycled plastic resins to reuse in its manufacturing and production. Reusing plastics actually cuts greenhouse emissions by nearly half so not only is this new robotic sorting system going to keep #2, #3 & #5 plastics out of our Evansville landfill but it's going to help to improve air quality and possibly even help to reduce global warming.