With China’s recent refusal of most foreign recyclables, North American waste haulers are scrambling to figure out how to make on-shore recycling cost-effective in order to continue providing recycling services. Recyclables that were once being shipped to China for manual sorting are now primarily being redirected to landfills or incinerators. Without a solution, a nearly $5 billion annual recycling market could come to a halt.
Purity in the recycling stream is key to this effort as contaminants in the stream can increase the cost of operations, damage equipment and reduce the ability to create pure commodities suitable for creating recycled goods. This market disruption as a result of China’s new regulations, however, provides us the chance to re-examine and improve our current disposal & collection habits with modern monitoring & artificial intelligence technology.
Using images from our in-dumpster cameras, Compology has developed an ML-based process that helps identify, measure and alert for contaminants in recycling containers before they are picked-up, helping keep the recycling stream clean.
Our convolutional neural network flags potential instances of contamination inside a dumpster, enabling garbage haulers to know which containers have the wrong type of material inside. This allows them to provide targeted, timely education, and when appropriate, assess fines, to improve recycling compliance at the businesses and residences they serve, helping keep recycling services financially viable.
In this presentation, we will walk through our ML-based contamination measurement and scoring process by showing how Waste Management, a national waste hauler, has experienced 57% contamination reduction in nearly 2,000 containers over six months, This progress shows significant strides towards financially viable recycling services.