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Rigid Plastics

Evergreen Adding AI-Enabled Robotics to 3rd PET Recycling Plant

Recycle Man/Adobe Stock PET-plastic-bottles-Recycle-Man-Adobe-Ftr.jpg
Artificial intelligence material sorting automation from AMP Robotics supports larger PET recycling streams, higher food-grade rPET manufacturing volumes.

Evergreen, one of North America’s three largest producers of food-grade recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), has just announced that it will be installing artificial intelligence-enabled bottle sorting robotics at its Albany, NY, plastics recycling and rPET manufacturing facility. When the installation is completed in mid-2022, Evergreen will have deployed 15 high-speed, highly accurate robotic lines at its three of its US locations.

Supplying the robotics sorting lines to Albany is AMP Robotics, a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI) robotics and infrastructure for the waste industry. AMP installed the AI-enabled robotic sorting lines in Evergreen Clyde in April 2021 and Evergreen Riverside in August 2021. 

Evergreen President and CEO Omar Abuaita says replacing previously manual sorting processes with high-tech robotics is part of a strategic vision to transform not just his company, but the overall plastics recycling industry. “With demand for recycled PET (rPET) at the highest levels in history, we simply can’t rely on outdated ways of doing business. Evergreen is playing for keeps. Automating our sorting lines allows us to support ever larger PET recycling streams, provide the millions of pounds of food grade rPET our customers have committed to purchasing, and achieve a safer, more efficient work environments for our team.”

Video shows AMP’s Cortex intelligent robotics systems used to sort green and clear PET bottles at Evergreen's Ohio facility.

Last month Abuaita revealed that Evergreen, a portfolio company of private equity firm the Sterling Group, has invested more than $200 million in modernization, capacity expansion, and acquisitions over the last 12 month. The AMP robotics are part of that investment.

Evergreen currently recycles more than 11.6 billion post-consumer PET bottles a year, up from 2 billion in 2021. General Manager Greg Johnson, who will speak at the Plastics Recycling Conference on Private Equity’s Impact on Recycling, says the AI-enabled sorting lines are an absolute necessity to increase both the speed and accuracy of sorting the monumental volume of bottles Evergreen processes. “With the use of AI-powered robotics, we can identify and pick more contaminants from the stream, leaving high quality clear and green PET bottles to be recycled. The consistency and reliability of the robots has revolutionized our process. Our goal is to capture all bottles we can use in our food-grade rPET pellet.”

Evergreen’s annual capacity of food grade rPET is 147 million pounds, up from 40 million pounds just one year ago.

When the company’s expansion at Evergreen Clyde is completed in mid-2022, its annual rPET capacity will swell to 217 million pounds.

For more articles about Evergreen, see Evergreen Ups Game as PET Bottle Recycler and rPET Producer, published February 2022, and Major New PET Recycling Platform Evergreen Launches, published June 2021.

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