Metaspectral receives grant funding

Canadian firm says its AI recyclables sorting technology will be introduced by the end of this year.

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Vancouver, British Columbia-based Metaspectral says it has been awarded more than $300,000 in grant funding from the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, which is funded by the British Columbia government and administered by the province’s Alacrity Cleantech program.

Metaspectral says it is developing technology that derives real-time insights from artificial intelligence (AI) using “ultra-high-resolution, visible-to-infrared (hyperspectral) imagery.”

The company says it will use the new funding to go toward the development of computer vision, AI and robotics designed to sort discarded consumer materials, increase efficiency in processing materials and improve the quality of post-consumer recycled plastic. The project is slated for completion by Dec. 31, 2021.

“By using ultra-high-resolution hyperspectral imaging, our AI is able to efficiently distinguish among types of plastics for accurate and easy sorting,” says Francis Doumet, CEO of Metaspectral. “It is impossible for humans to differentiate between different types of clear plastic bottles with the naked eye, so until now, various types of recycled clear plastics were sold together in bulk, decreasing the quality and value of the finished recycled material. Our technology will make it possible to differentiate between otherwise indistinguishable materials in real-time, automatically, meaning that large quantities of plastic can be sorted and recycled more efficiently and accurately.”

Metaspectral says the technology, if deployed, could stimulate more regional processing capacity for recycling “as more manufacturers begin using the higher-quality recycled plastics.” The firm says that “both federal and provincial governments have set ambitious recycling targets and have endorsed policy agreements to reduce plastic waste.”

That includes the government of Canada’s Greening Government target to increase the plastic recycling rate to 75 percent by 2030, up from a figure that could be as low as 9 percent currently, according to Metaspectral.