The AMP Cortex identifies, grabs and sorts food and beverage cartons from the recycling stream. These cartons are made into new products, such as tissues, paper towels and other paper materials, as well as building and construction materials. Once fully operational, the robot will be able to pick up 60 cartons per minute (or more), more than a human’s average pickup rate of 40, says AMP Robotics. (Read more about the AMP Cortex in the August 2017 Recycling Today feature, “Taking (quality) control” here.)
“We are constantly looking at innovative ways to maximize recycling, and the AMP Cortex is a perfect example,’’ says Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Cos. “We were already recycling cartons recognizing their value, however our method wasn’t as efficient as it could be. This system will assure we are sorting every carton.’’
The pilot for the AMP Cortex was launched at Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver in early 2017. (Read Recycling Today's August cover story on Alpine, “Forward focus,’’ here.) Through artificial intelligence (AI), everything learned about identifying cartons can be transferred to other systems. The robot is currently working 16 hours a day continuing to accumulate data. The Carton Council says the success at the Alpine facility led to this second installation, as the robot continues to become better at identifying and sorting more cartons in various shapes and brands.
“AI offers great opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of carton recycling,’’ says Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America and vice president, environment, for Tetra Pak, cluster, Americas. “We view the growth of the AMP Cortex as a cost-effective, long-term way to continue to expand carton recycling, including making it possible for more facilities to come on board with carton recycling.’’
“While the AMP Cortex is currently sorting only food and beverage cartons, it is learning from all the materials that pass below it and getting smarter each day,” says Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics. “In the future, it will be able to not only sort other recyclables but also be programmed to pick out contaminants, such as plastic bags, leading to a more cost-effective and safer MRF (material recovery facility) environment for the humans working on the line.”
The installation was made possible through a grant from the Carton Council as part of its ongoing efforts to improve and expand carton recycling. The Carton Council says it has a comprehensive strategy in place to further grow access and drive the recycling of aseptic and gable-top cartons that includes ensuring strong end markets and sorting performance, deploying school recycling programs, participating in relevant policy and legislative dialogues and motivating consumers to recycle.
The Carton Council is composed of four leading carton manufacturers, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Evergreen Packaging and Tetra Pak, as well as an associate member, Nippon Dynawave Packaging. Formed in 2009, the Carton Council works to deliver long-term collaborative solutions in order to divert cartons from the landfill. Through a united effort, the Carton Council says it is committed to building a sustainable infrastructure for carton recycling nationwide and works toward its continued goal of adding access to carton recycling throughout the U.S.
Dem-Con Cos. is a third-generation family-owned company that has been servicing the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota since 1965. Dem-Con’s facilities and services include a construction and demolition (C&D) MRF, single-stream recycling MRF, shingle processing yard, wood processing facility, metals processing facility, municipal solid waste and C&D transfer stations, roll-off container services, two lined disposal facilities, and its Green Grades Educational Program.
AMP Robotics develops robotic systems for the recycling industry.