An EverestLabs robot performs quality control on the aluminum can stream at the LRS sorting center in Chicago. | Courtesy of EverestLabs

Boosted by aluminum industry funding, MRF operator LRS has installed an EverestLabs robot at its Chicago sorting facility, aiming to reduce the number of aluminum cans that are lost due to missorting.

LRS announced the robotics installation on May 16, noting EverestLabs’ RecycleOS robot was installed on the MRF’s residual line in an effort to “increase revenue and ensure maximum efficiency, recovery and recycling of used beverage cans.”

The equipment was funded in part by the Can Manufacturers Institute, an industry group representing aluminum can packaging firms, as part of a leasing program spearheaded by CMI members Ardagh and Crown Holdings. Through the program, CMI gets a portion of the revenue generated by the cans captured by the installed robot, offsetting the installation cost. In the new announcement, Scott Breen, senior vice president of sustainability at CMI, said the revenue will be used “for even more can-capture equipment in MRFs.”

The MRF, which opened last summer on a 25-acre campus in Chicago’s Stockyards neighborhood, is dubbed The Exchange. It processes about 25 tons of recyclables per hour, and LRS plans to expand its capacity to 35 tons in the future.

The robotics will allow the MRF to improve quality control over about 4.2 million pounds of aluminum cans per year, according to the announcement.

This is the second MRF to participate in CMI’s leasing program, following Fresno, California-based Caglia Environmental, which leased an EverestLabs robot last summer. By the end of 2023, the MRF reported the robot was recovering an average 1,565 UBCs per day, cans that would otherwise be missorted.

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