The country is now facing a recycling crisis after the Asian countries, particularly China, closed its doors for the tons of trash that is due to be recycled. Now, towns and cities are drowning in millions of tons of garbage a day. China said they had to stop the importation of cardboard and plastic from the US due to contamination problems. It was posing health hazards to human workers in recycling plants every day. Sorting the trash is a dirty and dangerous job.
According to the report submitted by the University of Illinois School of Public Health, recycling workers are twice as likely to be injured on the job than any other worker. The profession also came with a high mortality rate. Historically, it was China who did all the recycling of the US waste.
Contamination, however, is high when processing trash from the US as the recyclables are often dumped into one bin, instead of in separate containers. Now, China has imposed stricter standards in accepting recyclable materials with its contamination level at only one-tenth of 1%. In order to deal with this economic catastrophe, US researchers through the initiative of various US based companies have looked into the development of robotic technology that will do a better job at sorting rubbish.
The way the robots work is pretty simple. Guided by a computer system and cameras that function as their eyes, the robots have been programmed to recognize specific objects to move it into specific conveyor belts that lead to the container where the recyclable should be. Oversized tongs that serve as fingers come with sensors collect glass, cans, plastic containers, and other recyclable items out of the rubbish to put it in specific containers.
The robots — most of them have only been used for less than a year, are assisting the human workers in the factors. They can also do the work twice as fast compared to humans. With continued research on the improvement of these robots in spotting and sorting objects from rubbish to recyclable bins, they could become the new workforce that gets the job done minus all the risks.
Robots have indeed shown the usefulness in various industries in the world. This time, it is particularly helpful in sorting the trash and putting them in the right bin. If only people took the time, they wouldn’t have had to deal with such problem.