Robotic Waste Recycling Demonstration – ReWARD

ZenRobotics Ltd has joined the European Union Eco-Innovation initiative with the ZenRobotics Recycler, the first commercially available robotic waste sorting system in the world. The ReWARD project entered the Eco-Innovation programme in August 2014.

Eco-Innovation – business meets the environment

The Eco-Innovation initiative is part of the wider EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) that aims at improving the competitiveness of European companies. Further, the Eco-Innovation initiative is one practical measure for implementing the EU’s Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP).

Projects selected in the programme include products, services and processes that both protect the environment and entail sustainable commercial potential. The selected companies have the ability for market replication and scalable business growth in their respective industries.

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Environmental innovation through robotics

ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR) is a robotic waste sorting system designed for construction and demolition waste, sorting metal, wood and stone fractions. The ZRR system autonomously reclaims valuable raw materials for recycling purposes from a continuous stream of waste.

Key environmental benefits:

  • Improving the quality of recycled materials through better sorting and classification. The achieved purity of the sorted material is above 95%, exceeding the targets set out in the Waste Framework Directive.
  • High volumes of sorted waste, currently limited by legislative barriers rather than technical capacity.
  • Low energy consumption during operation, making it possible to cover input energy needs with solar panels no larger than the enclosed operational space.
  • Major occupational health benefits, as personnel is not exposed to poisonous or hazardous materials or excessive noise.

ZenRobotics Recycler is based on highly advanced machine learning technology that utilizes input data from multiple sensors, including visible spectrum cameras, near infrared, 3D laser scanners and haptic sensors. The sensor data is used for creating a real-time analysis of the waste stream, allowing the system to autonomously decide which objects to pick and how.

ReWARD project goals

The key goal of the ReWARD project is to increase the market uptake of the ZRR system by demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of the unique robotic recycling system. This will be realized by improving the reference installation site, the SITA Finland waste treatment site in Viikki, Helsinki, Finland.

As part of the project, the Viikki site will be upgraded with the latest and greatest system components, in terms of hardware and software as well as general site facilities. The reference site allows both demonstrating the product in real-life conditions as well as testing and optimizing the system.

Additional project goals and activities include:

  • Commercializing additional ZRR units and preparing for future growth.
  • Obtaining night-time operating permits that allow shorter payback times and more return on investments.
  • Assessing and certifying the environmental and economic impacts of the ZenRobotics Recycler system.
  • Optimizing the system performance to reach up to 95% purity.
  • Developing a mobile version of the ZRR system for trade shows and promotion.
  • Additional dissemination and commercialization activities.

Supported by

The ReWARD project is part of the European Union Eco-Innovation initiative.