The 100% Recyclable Running Shoe That’s Only Available by Subscription
To make a shoe that can be ground up, melted down and reincarnated as another shoe, Swiss sportswear brand On didn’t just need new materials and manufacturing processes. It designed a new sales model. In June, On began shipping the first 10,000 pairs of its latest model, starting with U.S. customers. The Cloudneo is pitched as “the shoe you will never own.” Instead, runners pay $29.99 a month for an endless supply, provided they return worn-out pairs to be recycled. On executives say this arrangement will lock in a supply of raw material for new shoes, reducing waste.
Sortera Alloys Announces $10M Funding Round to Advance End-of-Life Recycling for Automotive Metals
Sortera Alloys, Inc., an innovative industrial scrap metal sorting and recycling company powered by A.I. imagery, data analytics, and advanced sensors, announced $10M in funding led by Assembly Ventures with additional funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Novelis. Sortera is dedicated to providing a solution for end-of-life circular recycling in the aluminum industry.
Sortera’s A.I.-powered technology allows existing streams of mixed alloy aluminum scrap to be separated back into individual alloys. The upgraded metals can then be recycled back into the highest value applications ranging from automotive cast and flat-rolled products to building, construction, and aerospace materials extrusions. The company’s low-cost, scalable production process enables customers to reduce their CO₂ footprint and achieve sustainability and circular production goals due to the fact that recycled aluminum requires roughly 95% less energy to produce than aluminum produced from virgin raw materials.
How can we help reduce plastic waste? Facilitating the use of recycled plastics using in-mold sensors to optimize the injection molding process
To use recycled materials with material properties that fluctuate from lot-to-lot, conventionally, a skilled operator made fine manual adjustments to the injection molding process conditions according to the material properties. As this is time consuming and requires experience, this has limited the type and amount of recycled materials used as manufacturers have sought to use recycled materials with consistent properties.
To address this issue, my colleagues and I conducted a study where we looked at how we could automatically optimize the process conditions and thereby contribute to quality, and presented our results at the 37th International Conference of the Polymer Processing Society (PPS-37) which was held in Fukuoka, Japan, from 11-15 April 2022. Below, I’d like to briefly share what we did.
AI-Guided Robots Are Ready to Sort Your Recyclables
So how much of the material that goes into the typical bin avoids a trip to landfill? For countries that do curbside recycling, the number—called the recovery rate—appears to average around 70 to 90 percent, though widespread data isn’t available. That doesn’t seem bad. But in some municipalities, it can go as low as 40 percent.
Getting AI into the recycling business means combining pick-and-place robots with accurate real-time object detection. Pick-and-place robots combined with computer vision systems are used in manufacturing to grab particular objects, but they generally are just looking repeatedly for a single item, or for a few items of known shapes and under controlled lighting conditions. Recycling, though, involves infinite variability in the kinds, shapes, and orientations of the objects traveling down the conveyor belt, requiring nearly instantaneous identification along with the quick dispatch of a new trajectory to the robot arm.
One Michigan county makes millions by recycling. It could become a state model.
Today, Emmet County’s high-tech recycling program has grown into a million-dollar revenue source for the community of 33,000-some residents, selling thousands of tons of recyclables to companies across Michigan and the Great Lakes region to be made into new products. They even found a way to recycle plastic shopping bags.
Inside the facility in Harbor Springs, a robotic arm quickly sweeps across a moving conveyer belt and plucks high-grade plastics, glass, and aluminum, dropping them into sorted bins. The stream of mixed containers flows around and around until the robot pulls out all the recyclable items at a rate of 90 picks per minute; another line of materials in a separate room is where workers pluck papers, boxes, and bags by hand from a moving conveyor belt.
Fast and Efficient Plastic-Degrading Enzyme Developed Using AI
Plastic waste build-up in the environment is an enormous ecological challenge. Indeed, 40% of plastic waste goes around collection systems and ends up residing in natural environments. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) accounts for 12% of global solid waste. Enzymes that break down PET, PET hydrolases, have been previously developed but suffer from practical limitations with slow reaction rates and specific pH and temperature ranges.
Now, researchers have used a structure-based, machine learning algorithm to engineer a robust and active PET hydrolase. The enzyme, FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase), can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours and days.
ABB’s Paper Mill Technology Helps Renewcell Turn Old Clothes Into New Fabrics
In recent years, the pulp and paper industry has gone from having a reputation of being dirty and environmentally unfriendly to being a leader in sustainability and pollution control. Now the technologies that enabled that transition are being used to help the textile industry too. And the players involved are restarting a shuttered paper mill in Sweden to make it happen, once more providing good-paying jobs for the area.
Renewcell is the Sweden-based scaleup at the center of it all. The company developed a sustainable process that recycles waste textiles into a product called Circulose, whose name is the tip-off that it’s aimed at making fashion circular.
We Recycle More Steel Than Plastic. Why Does It Still Pollute So Much?
How Eastman Strives for a Circular Plastics Economy
“Mechanical recycling—where you go out and take items like single-use bottles, chop, wash and re-meld them and put them back into textiles or bottles—can only really address a small portion of the plastics that are out there,” Crawford said. After a few cycles, the polymers in the products degrade and the process is no longer possible.
Instead, Eastman uses advanced, also known as molecular or chemical, recycling. “We unzip the plastic back to its basic building blocks, then purify those building blocks to create new materials,” Crawford said. This “creates an infinite loop because that polymer can go through that process time and time again.”
Never Heard of Recycled Paint? You Have Now! - Dulux Trade Evolve
Material World: A Greener and Smarter Future for Textile Production
The environmental impact of textile production is well documented, with the industry as a whole ranking second only to oil in terms of global pollution levels. Massive energy and water use, together with sky-high levels of discarded chemicals and landfill waste are all key drivers in the calls for closed-loop production.
“3D design packages help designers optimize materials and design for minimal or zero waste, for example through lay efficiencies when laying pattern pieces out, or through calculating how to knit a garment in one piece without any yarn waste. Smart processes can also influence sourcing and supply strategies, for example through using computer algorithms to predicts waste or production inefficiencies, or fabric performance issues.”
Flash Joule heating by Rice lab recovers precious metals from electronic waste in seconds
Parts cleaning: the manufacturing maintenance saving you’ve never heard of
“Our new process, developed with the new Automatic Aqueous cleaning machine solution supplied by Safetykleen, reduced the cleaning cycle from 30 minutes down to 7 minutes!,” said a spokesperson at Knorr-Bremse “Not only was the cleaning time reduced but the cleaning is now more efficient and has significantly less environmental impact.”
The use of a parts washer can dramatically decrease the personnel time required for the cleaning component of maintenance and allows maintenance workers to focus on the key tasks of disassembly, reassembly and testing. According to feedback from users, an automatic parts washing machine can complete two days’ worth of manual cleaning in around 3 hours and reduce maintenance personnel requirements by 23%.
Revolutionizing the Composting Industry
“To our knowledge, this facility is the first time that AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics have been used in a pre-sort facility for organics in North America,” says McMillin. “The goal of the presort facility is to remove contaminants from the organic waste stream prior to processing instead of trying to remove those contaminants after they’ve been through the composting process via vacuums and wind sifters that have historically been attached to the screening process.
Circular Car Factories
The next big shift will be an environmentally friendly movement dubbed the “circular auto factory.” According to some experts, the circular cars initiative will reshape the auto industry during the next two decades, as OEMs and suppliers attempt to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the entire vehicle life cycle.
The term “circular car” refers to a theoretical vehicle that has efficiently maximized its use of aluminum, carbon-fiber composites, glass, fabric, rubber, steel, thermoplastics and other materials. Ideally, it would produce zero material waste and zero pollution during manufacture, utilization and disposal.
One of the key elements of a circular car factory is a closed-loop recycling program where disassembly lines are housed in the same facility as traditional final assembly lines. All vehicle components and materials are remanufactured, reused and recycled at the end of life.
Trash to Cash: Recyclers Tap Startup with World’s Largest Recycling Network to Freshen Up Business Prospects
People worldwide produce 2 billion tons of waste a year, with 37 percent going to landfill, according to the World Bank.
“Sorting by hand on conveyor belts is dirty and dangerous, and the whole place smells like rotting food. People in the recycling industry told me that robots were absolutely needed,” said Horowitz, the company’s CEO.
His startup, AMP Robotics, can double sorting output and increase purity for bales of materials. It can also sort municipal waste, electronic waste, and construction and demolition materials.