Most of the recycling plants use different technologies from bar code readers and RGB cameras to X-Ray and Eddy current systems. While they are capable technologies to a certain extent, they are not perfect solutions as their capability to identify the material is limited.
For example, if a plastic bottle is missing the barcode, it is not possible to detect if it is PET or HDPE. Eddy-current detectors can sort out conductive metals but not separate plastics or pulp. RGB cameras can sort bottles into transparent, black, and colored but cannot distinguish one plastic type from another.
When the recycled portion is not pure enough for reuse, we lose recyclable material to landfill or energy production. The poor sorting result also results in lost profits, which makes recycling unprofitable and dependent on public support.
Different waste streams require different detection and processing methods to be recycled efficiently and current recycling methods are not flexible, efficient, and informative enough to tackle the challenge.
To make up for inadequate detection technologies, human labor is still used. Sorting waste by hand is slow, inaccurate, expensive, and dangerous, and separating different plastic types from each other remains impossible because the human eye cannot tell them apart.
To work efficiently, profitably, and safely recycling plants must have sensors capable of separating different materials reliably and with high purity. Hyperpectral imaging offers a powerful technology for accurate and sustainable waste recycling.