AI-powered sortation advances circular economy for recycled plastics
AMP Robotics Corp. (“AMP”), a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and infrastructure for the waste industry, has deployed six AI-guided robotic sorting systems with Evergreen, one of the nation’s largest recyclers of PET bottles, at its Ohio processing facility. AMP’s technology identifies and sorts green and clear PET from post-consumer bales of plastic soft drink bottles, which Evergreen recycles into reusable flakes or pellets (rPET) and sells to end markets as feedstock for new containers and packaging. Evergreen is a subsidiary of Greenbridge, formerly Polychem, a leading manufacturer of polyester and polypropylene products, serving the food and beverage, consumer packaged goods, and industrial industries since 1974.
“As a leader in the recycling of post-consumer PET bottles, the precision and accuracy of AI and robotics has aided our ability to better monitor the composition of material throughout our operation, boost recovery, and ensure high quality in the rPET resin we produce,” said Greg Johnson, vice president of operations for Greenbridge and Evergreen. “AMP’s technology aligns with our core values of environmental responsibility, sustainability, the safety and wellbeing of our team, and profitability.”
Products made from rPET can be recycled again—important as states consider legislation around producer responsibility, which charges producers higher rates for hard-to-recycle packaging and could drive packaging design that uses more recycled content. If plastics are not properly separated during the sorting phase, and different materials get processed together, it produces a lower-quality resin, which may not meet manufacturers’ product standards and the stringent requirements for food-grade and beverage containers. AMP’s installation at Evergreen demonstrates the company’s continuous market expansion with plastics reclaimers in addition to its infrastructure modernization efforts with materials recovery facilities.
“Greenbridge and Evergreen are leading the way in applying innovation to increase the capture and processing of post-consumer resin (PCR). With the U.S. recycling less than 10% of plastics produced annually, their application of advanced technology is expanding recovery, diverting material from landfill, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of AMP Robotics. “AI-guided sortation can deliver scientifically calibrated mixes of material to meet reclaimers’ specifications and those of end-market buyers. The technology helps ensure a higher-quality end product and a larger volume of recycled material for brands to source for their recycled content goals and sustainability commitments and improves the bottom line of reclaimers who supply it.”
In addition to polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), AMP’s AI platform precisely identifies and captures plastics including high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS), sorted further by color, clarity, and opacity, along with different form factors—lids, tubs, clamshells, cups, and more. AMP’s technology also recovers cardboard, paper, cans, cartons, and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing. It can quickly adapt to container packaging introduced into the recycling stream with recognition capabilities to the brand level—increasingly critical as demand for sufficient quantities of high-quality recycled material grows to meet consumer packaged goods companies’ commitment to use of post-consumer recycled content.
Last month, AMP announced the launch of the company’s automated secondary sorting facilities, which apply advanced automation enabled by AI to economically sort through low volumes of residue to recover mixed plastics like PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, and PS. These material streams also contain high-value recyclables like used beverage cans (UBCs) and old corrugated cardboard (OCC) that are in high demand for resale to aluminum manufacturers and paper mills. AMP’s secondary facilities drive down the cost of recovery while creating contamination-free, high-quality bales of recycled material for resale. AMP’s business model also introduces market certainty and new revenue streams for established MRFs by creating demand for residue that would otherwise cost businesses to dispose of.
AMP’s deployments span North America, Asia, and Europe. Within the United States, AMP’s footprint covers more than 25 states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, in addition to Evergreen’s facility in Ohio. In January, AMP announced it raised $55 million in corporate equity in a Series B financing, led by XN with participation from new investors Valor Equity Partners and GV as well as existing investors Sequoia Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Congruent Ventures, and Closed Loop Partners. AMP is using this latest funding to scale its business operations, develop innovative new AI product applications, and expand its work with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies like Keurig Dr Pepper (NASDAQ: KDP).