This story has been corrected.
Recycling equipment company Bulk Handling Systems recently announced two facilities – one already opened and another in the works – that will rely heavily on robotics and artificial intelligence.
It’s no secret that China is a leader in international world trade. For years, the country has been a major importer of many types of foreign goods, including timber, dairy products, and petrochemicals. China is also the world’s largest importer of waste. Last year, Chinese manufacturers and recyclers imported 7.3 million metric tons of waste plastics (valued at $3.7 billion), accounting for 56 percent of world imports in that category. It also took in more than half of the world’s exports of waste paper.
For North America’s largest haulers, recycling pleasure has given way to pain. After enjoying big returns from higher commodity prices in the first quarter, three recycling giants noted tumbling fiber prices in April.
In the not-too-distant future, artificial intelligence may see and control all that’s happening in a recycling facility. But first, it’s going to do some work on a quality control line.