Using AI to aid Recycling
Updated: Sep 23
Designed by Wannapik
A known issue impacting climate change is the disposal of reusable materials into the trash; which results in an excessive amount of pollution in the ocean, land, etc… According to epa.gov, millions of tons of reusable materials are wasted on an annual basis. Rather than wasting these resources, we can recycle reusable materials to create clothing, plastic utensils, etc…
As the name implies, reusable materials like plastics and glass can be used again for other purposes, effectively reducing the amount of waste within society. Although it may be easier to just throw out a plastic bag or water bottle, it is surprising to see the impact that it can have when recycled. Within the FXB Climate Organization, Leonie Wisowaty has started their own clothing line that creates Denim products using reusable materials. Project Leo (Wisowaty’s company) is an example of an extremely effective way to use reusable resources to create new items rather than throwing them into the trash where they will be thrown into landfills for years to come.
A unique approach to combat the high amounts of recyclable materials in the trash is to implement Artificial Intelligence to determine the degree to which a piece of material is reusable. What I am proposing is that a type of sensor should be created to be put into trash and recycling bins that would scan a product and determine whether its leather or a plastic water bottle or a piece of cake. Then the scanner would look in its database of initial data to find the product or a similar product and then determine whether it is reusable or not. Therefore people would know when to throw something out versus recycling it.
Another way we could leverage Artificial Intelligence would be to create a scanner that can determine the materials a certain product has in it. With the knowledge of what the product is composed of, the scanner could decide on whether or to throw out the product or recycle it. For example, Clean Robotics, a startup in PA, has created an artificial intelligence equipped trash can that sorts items via sensors that analyze the material makeup of the disposed item to determine whether it is recyclable.
Not everyone is going to create a clothing line to help combat climate change, however, just doing little things like making sure reusable materials are reused could help reduce the amount of waste that is being thrown into the environment and create a healthier earth.