Recycling plastic effectively would save our world millions of tons of waste, but the bad guy that plastic is, it doesn’t lend itself easily to recycling. There are of course recycle numbers on most plastic containers, but then even these plastics with same numbers often cannot be recycled together. All this basically takes us to huge mountains of plastics that need to be sorted before they can be put to recycling.
Manually segregating these large amounts is even more difficult than it sounds, resulting in an abysmally small percentage of plastics ever being recycled. To sort out the problem, Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Corp and Osaka University have created a robot that uses lasers to sort plastics into six different types. The robot uses lasers of different wavelengths and sees the reflectivity of these lasers to determine the composition of the plastic and subsequently sort these plastics.
There’s no word on the amount of plastic the robot can handle in a day, but it would probably be good as the bot is going to be commercially available soon with a price tag of $55k.