recycling app uses AI to identify waste | Liverpool City Champion


A new app will use artificial intelligence to help Australians determine if their waste can be recycled.

Recycle Mate is designed to end the widespread confusion about what goes into which color bin.

“A lot of things that you think are recyclable aren’t and a lot of things that you think can’t be recycled can be,” Australian Recycling Council’s new CEO, Suzanne Toumbourou, told AAP.

“The app will help every Australian answer the question, ‘Which bin should I put this in?'”

Passionate recyclers can use their phones to take a photo of a waste item, such as a plastic container, and Recycle Mate will use artificial intelligence to identify it and determine if the local council can recycle it.

“The technological sophistication behind this is probably unprecedented,” Ms. Toumbourou said.

The app has been developed by the Australian company Adaptation Environmental Support over the past three years.

Adaptation General Manager Lara Barclay says early users of the app are teaching her what different junk looks and is called.

“Whenever you search for a word or take a photo, the app collects the data and we send it back,” she told AAP.

Ms Barclay said the beta version of the app is available for download at the moment, but is not yet fully functional in all parts of the country.

For now, she’s hoping people will use an associated program called Recycle Soldiers and take photos of their trash to help teach the system to identify it.

There are several recycling apps already available in Australia, including Brisbane Bin and Recycling, Recycle Right (used in Western Australia), and RecycleSmart.

But Ms Barclay says Recycle Mate has a much broader scope and already has data on more than 4,000 garbage.

Between 10 and 15 percent of items put in household recycling bins are not actually recyclable, which can contaminate loads of recyclable items and lead to more waste going to landfill.

Ms. Toumbourou wants Recycle Mate to help fuel a circular economy, where waste is processed to be reused over and over again.

“We would like to see as much waste as possible return to the supply chain,” she said.

Australia generated around 74 million tonnes of waste in 2018-19, or just under three tonnes per person.

Recycle Mate is financially supported by the federal government’s Environmental Restoration Fund and the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

It rolls out nationally from August.

Associated Australian Press

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