Metaspectral wins funding for AI-powered recycling tech as Canada combats plastic crisis
28 Jul 2021 --- Metaspectral has been awarded a CA$300,000 (US$239,000) grant by the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund in Canada to support its development of AI-powered technology for sorting plastics automatically to enhance recycling.
The company’s technology derives real-time insights from artificial intelligence (AI) using ultra-high-resolution, visible-to-infrared imagery, also known as hyperspectral imagery.
The CleanBC Plastics Action Fund is funded by the provincial government of British Columbia and administered by Alacrity Cleantech.
The fund supports businesses in British Columbia creating value from used plastics by including more recycled material in product manufacturing to keep plastic out of landfills.
Metaspectral will use the funding to design computer vision, AI and robotics for sorting consumer waste, increasing efficiency in processing materials and improving the quality of post-consumer recycled plastic.
“The technology is designed to sort between different materials, whether different types of the same material like plastic or different materials altogether,” Francis Doumet, Metaspectral’s co-founder and CEO, tells PackagingInsights.
“The technology is past the proof-of-concept stage. It will be installed in a production environment by the end of the year.”
Metaspectral’s AI can efficiently distinguish among types of materials using ultra-high-resolution hyperspectral imaging for accurate and easy sorting.
“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,” explains Doumet.
“Our technology will make it possible to differentiate between otherwise indistinguishable materials in real-time, automatically, meaning large quantities of plastic can be sorted and recycled more efficiently and accurately.”
Doumet adds that Metaspectral’s solution is cost-competitive with other automated mechanical sorting options.
Canada’s ambitious recycling targets
Canada’s Greening Government Strategy has set ambitious targets to increase the ratio of plastics recycled to 75 percent by 2030, up from 9 percent today.
Doumet says government policies can have a significant impact in solving the plastic pollution crisis and propelling technologies like AI-powered sorting and recycling to prominence.
In late 2020, the Canadian government banned all single-use plastics commonly found littering the environment, including checkout bags, beverage six-pack rings, cutlery, straws, and food packaging made from plastics that are difficult to recycle.
“The government has also created a separate market for recycled material and requires a minimum of recycled content in all new packaging products. This will have a significant impact in driving up the demand for recycled material,” says Doumet.
Canada Plastics Pact
Meanwhile, the Canada Plastics Pact has brought key companies in the plastics value chain together, targeting 30 percent recycled content by weight across all plastic packaging by 2025.
“Packaging manufacturers also need to have a way to measure how much of their own packaging is being recycled. This is essential as it will help understand how much virgin material is ending up being recycled and used,” continues Doumet.
“Manufacturers are starting to look at this by searching for ways to ‘mark’ their material so it remains identifiable once the plastic has been recycled.”
Ultimately, Metaspectral believes its technology can support the circular economy for plastics and stimulate more local processing capacity for recycling as more manufacturers begin using higher-quality recycled plastics.
By Joshua Poole
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.