zenrobotics plastic sorting
The ZenRobotics Fast Picker in Milan, Italy, is purifying the PET bottle stream for recycling.
Photo provided by ZenRobotics.

ZenRobotics unit to tackle plastic sorting in Italy

Masotina S.p.A. will install a robotic unit on its plastic scrap sorting line in Milan, Italy.

July 7, 2021

Italian waste management and recycling firm Masotina S.p.A. has agreed with Finland-based ZenRobotics to retrofit its plastics recycling facility (PRF) with an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robotic sorting station for the recovery of clear polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The Masotina plant in Milan, Italy, is a residential plastic scrap recovery and sorting facility with 250,000 tons per year of capacity. The facility has been retrofitted in recent years to increase the amount of automation.

ZenRobotics describes the Masotina complex in Milan as housing one of the largest material recovery facilities (MRFs) in Europe, with some 355,000 tons of annual capacity. “By partnering with ZenRobotics, Masotina expands its technology leadership to include AI-based waste sorting robotics at its flagship facility,” states the Finnish equipment provider.

The ZenRobotics Fast Picker sorting station added performs quality control at the facility, intended to reduce the need for manual sorting by removing contaminants and taking out other recyclable polymers such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

The Masotina MRF separates plastic scrap from other materials including, paper, old corrugated containers (OCC), aluminum cans and foil, and inert materials. At the downstream PRF, the plastic is separated by polymer and color “to maximize the recycle-reuse value of plastic,” according to ZenRobotics.

ZenRobotics credits the compact size of the Fast Picker for its ability to be integrated into the existing sorting line at the Masotina PRF “despite very tight spaces at the facility.”

“ZenRobotics is excited to partner with Masotina, one of Italy’s strongest waste management companies,” says ZenRobotics CEO Jarmo Ruohonen. “We were pleased to see that our robotics technology matches the rigorous sorting ambitions of Masotina. We strongly believe that smart robotics has enormous potential to recover more and more recyclable materials. The Masotina S.p.A facility is a perfect example of how existing MRFs can make use of the latest technology to improve their efficiency and economics in waste sorting.”