Balcones receives Phoenix recycling contract

Amp Robotics Corp., Denver, is developing an automated system powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that says it will help material recovery facilities (MRFs) avoid film contamination as they sort film and flexible packaging.

Named Amp Vortex, the company says it has started its pre-release to the market, working with initial customers on deployment. Amp says it expects Vortex to be in full production in 2023.

Amp says the recycling industry lacks infrastructure for the identification and separation of film and flexible packaging, and the materials jam MRF equipment that is not designed to handle it. It estimates that even 2 to 3 percent film in overall MRF streams can be unmanageable to remove manually, often damaging equipment and causing downtimes that prevent the recovery of recyclables. Amp says film and flexible packaging can find their way into every line in a MRF, resulting in high levels of contamination.

In addition, the company says that, due to their light weights, most of these materials make their way onto fiber lines. Film contamination can degrade fiber bale purity, leading to revenue loss or the need for additional post-processing downstream.

The Amp Vortex system can be deployed as a retrofit solution in various configurations to accommodate different belt sizes and inclines, and targets film contamination and is initially optimized for quality control on fiber lines, according to Amp.

“Innovation and infrastructure improvements are vital to helping MRFs process this challenging, prolific material type and increase recycling rates for residential film and flexible packaging,” Amp founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz says. “AI is laying the groundwork to reduce the contamination burden on MRFs and scale the recycling of film and flexible packaging.”

Amp is developing Vortex to target and recover film and flexible packaging for baling and selling, which it says is a response to an increase in major brands making commitments to using more recycled content in their products, along with states adopting laws aimed at ramping up the use of post-consumer resin in plastic products and packaging.

The system was first developed through Amp’s Customer Innovation Program, which focuses on collaborating with industry stakeholders to develop new AI-enabled automation applications for the recycling industry. Amp says that Vortex is among a portfolio of new products and performance features it is developing for pilot and commercial release in support of increased recycling efficiency and improved cost-effectiveness for MRFs and converters.

“With our latest technology innovation for more efficient, profitable recycling operations, we aim to boost recovery and drive demand for products manufactured from recycled film and flexibles to develop and support end markets,” Amp Senior Director of Product Amanda Marrs says. “This effort is key to addressing the plastic waste crisis and diverting millions of tons of recoverable material from landfills annually.”

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