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Recycling robot sorts six types of plastic using laser photonics

A recycling robot that uses sensors to detect five different wavelengths of laser beam light reflected from plastic materials, and will automatically sort six different polymer types, currently is being tested in Osaka, Japan. The photonics sensing technology has been developed by the Idec Co. (Japan) and the Photonics Advanced Research Center (PARC) at the University of Osaka. Optical and robot technologies are supplied by Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Co. (MEE).

PARC says that PE and PP, which together account for about 45% of plastic material production, are not distinguishable by eye but can be recognized and sorted by this robotic system.

Trial models of the new system are currently in demonstration tests at two stores in Osaka and Nara. Idec plans to commercialize a smaller version of the plastic sorting system and sell it for about 5 million yen (~$55,000).

The entire project is supported by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. —[email protected]

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