Robots Used for Sustainable Impact


Did you know that the U.S. represents 4% of the world’s population? Still, it produces 12% of global municipal solid waste, yet only recycles 35% of its municipal waste, as opposed to other countries like Germany – which recycles 68%. Are you aware that Americans produce three times as much trash as the global mean? Due to recent bans on plastic waste imports from China and Malaysia, America continues to struggle amidst an escalating recycling crisis. Robotics may be America’s ticket out. Read on to see the usage of robotics in waste management recycling.

Reduce Landfill Waste

Not all plastic and paper are recyclable. The material used in some plastic and paper products is difficult to reuse. For instance, flexible packages like potato chip bags are not recyclable, because it is layered with various plastics and lined with aluminum that makes it difficult to break down to reuse. Damaged or tarnished trash and recycling collection, as well as non-recyclable waste, contaminated recyclables all fall under the non-recyclable category. As a result, the recyclables losses their quality, and the market value decreases. The market is another critical determinant in recycling. When there’s a market demand for recyclables, companies are willing to buy the recycled items. However, recyclables with no market demand are deemed useless. Therefore, these items go to landfills, which ultimately worsens the crisis.

Trash Sorting with Robots

Robots are used to spot all contaminated items such as non-recyclable, damaged, or tarnished items, that human workers may overlook. Robots aid in maintaining the quality of recyclables by removing contaminant items before it extends to other items. The Rocycle robotic system, created by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, can differentiate between paper, plastic, and metal. The system can distinguish an object’s size and stiffness through sensors located on soft Teflon fingertips. Recon Services uses two robot arms with “smart grippers” that are programmed to differentiate between 12 types of materials, as well as separate plastics, based on polymer, color, shape, and size. Waste is reused instead of sent to landfills due to successful preservation from contamination.

Recycle Materials with Robots

Companies are also taking the initiative to manage their commercial waste properly. “Daisy”, Apple’s recycling robot, eats and regurgitates iPhones. Apple recycling program, Daisy, is expected to help Apple reach its aim of a “closed-loop,” which is when Apple uses recyclable material from old iPhones to create new Apple products. Thus, all Apple products will become sustainable. Daisy can disassemble 15 different versions of iPhones and collect its reusable material to build other products. As a direct result, more than 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste did not become stored in landfills from Apple’s effort.

Control of Water Pollution with Robots

Nitrogen and phosphorus is an essential nutrient for plants and animals. However, nitrogen can be hazardous if found in water. Large amounts of nitrogen in water causes an acceleration in the growth of aquatic plants and algae, which clogs the water and blocks the sunlight. Envirobot is a swimming robot, modeled after lampreys and eels it detects pollution in bodies of water. The envirobot gathers data on a body of water and sends the data to a computer. Designed with biological sensors that allow it to recognize pollutants in the water, such as mercury, envirobot reveals the toxicity level of a body of water.

Clean Drinking Water with Robots

The water quality in the U.S. continues to deteriorate. Due to the century-old pipe system, toxic dumping, and lead pipes, people around the country are drinking contaminated water. Twenty-one million Americans are getting water from systems that violate health standards. HiBot, an amphibious pipe robot, is a robotic system that travels within pipes to evaluate the quality of the tube. The HiBot collects data on weather, soil, traffic, and the thickness of the pipe’s wall then rates the pipe from A to F on its overall structure. Through the data, HiBot can predict future complications as well as identify pipes in need of immediate repairments. Communities can make the first step toward keeping their communities drinking water clean due to the help of robots.

Sustainable Trends with Cali Carting

As a global environmental crisis continues to rise and worldwide recycling laws change – America needs a fresh idea to combat these rising challenges. Robotics may be America’s best defense. Through robotics, companies and communities can gain access to problem areas, as well as collect real-time data to make informed decisions. We live on this planet. We need to maintain it! Cali Carting believes the best way to preserve our planet is to know what is happening in it. Also, it is essential to understand how the government, companies, and communities are protecting it. If you want to know the latest trends and news in recycling and waste management, contact us today.

Recent Posts
child in orange shirt, black skirt, and orange and black stripe stockings holding a jack-o-lantern for trick or treating