Minister of State with special responsibility for Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth today (4 July) officially launched a new robotic carton sorting technology during a site visit of the Panda’s materials recovery facility (MRF) in Ballymount, Dublin.
The installation of the innovative technology at MRF was funded by Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE Ireland).
According to ACE Ireland using ground-breaking artificial intelligence as accurate as a human eye, the new robot will identify, pick, and sort cartons at the MRF into their own dedicated streams.
The sorted materials will then be sent onwards to ACE’s specialised carton recycling facility in the UK which is operated by Sonoco Stainland.
Commenting, Minister Smyth, said, “The creation of a circular economy and the achievement of our ambitious reuse and recycling targets requires strong partnerships and innovative solutions.
"I’m delighted to be here today at the launch of this new technology, which will improve recycling processes and drive higher recycling rates. Today also demonstrates the important role that cross-industry collaboration can play in the transition to a circular economy.”
ACE Ireland represents Tetra Pak, Elopak, and SIG Combibloc, the leading manufacturers of beverage cartons for the Irish and European markets.
Richard Hands, chief executive of ACE Ireland, said, “The beverage carton is a sustainable, recyclable, and renewable packaging choice used by Irish households as part of everyday life for many decades.
"As an industry we are committed to increasing carton recycling rates and improving recycling practices through targeted investment, the development of new technology, and working with industry partners."
500 Tonnes Of Cartons
Brian McCabe, CEO of Beauparc, the parent company of Panda, added, “The installation of this latest generation of robotic sorting technology in Ballymount will allow us to significantly increase the quality of target materials extracted from sorting lines in the MRF.
"We anticipate over 500 tonnes of cartons will be sorted per annum for onward recycling with an expectation that this will further increase as we bed in the new technology."
The automated sorting technology, which was developed by Recycleye and Fanuc, 'has the capacity to deliver 33,000 picks over a ten-hour shift'.