Urbaser allies with Recycleye to introduce the first ever AI sorting technology in Spain

AL Circle

Urbaser, a global leader, has recently made an innovative investment in automated sorting technology, unveiling plans to integrate an AI-powered waste-picking robot in Algimia, Valencia, by the first half of 2024. Partnering with the UK-based technology provider Recycleye, this move aligns with Urbaser's vision of providing top-notch environmental solutions across its value chain.

Urbaser allies with Recycleye to introduce the first ever AI sorting technology in Spain


The innovative robot, equipped with computer vision, is set to revolutionise waste sorting, particularly in salvaging overlooked valuables at the tail end of the process, thereby preventing their descent into landfills. This strategic investment not only bolsters sustainability efforts but also promises increased revenue, reflecting Urbaser's commitment to environmental excellence.

Advancements in waste sorting technology

Recycleye's AI, a proven technology prevalent in sorting facilities across the UK and Europe, stands as accurate as the human eye. Fueled by a vast database of billions of waste images, this system excels in precisely detecting and categorising materials for sorting. Notably, it surpasses traditional technologies by discerning materials like black plastics and distinguishing between seemingly identical items, such as aluminium cans versus aluminium aerosols. Moreover, it addresses the challenge of sorting plastic bottles containing residual liquid, a common pitfall for other sorting methods.

The power of Recycleye's vision

As materials traverse the sorting line, the Recycleye Vision system not only facilitates sorting but also provides near-real-time data analysis on the waste composition. With the addition of a robotic arm, this system outperforms human capabilities, ensuring consistent accuracy. Operating 24/7, it promises to enhance recycling efficiency by segregating materials more effectively.

While talking about the high points in the arrangement, Rubén Benito, Plant Director for Urbaser, commented: "We are proud to bring this investment to our operations in Valencia, demonstrating our commitment to drive innovation and change in our pursuit of greater sustainability. We expect the robot to deliver greater value and more traceability to our operations and ultimately to enable us to recycle more, which is good for our staff, our business and for the planet".

Matias Gualtieri, Technical Sales Manager at Recycleye and based in Valencia, also spoke his mind: "Partnering with FANUC as a robotic arm provider allows us to bring our AI-powered sorting technology to Spain while ensuring a solid after-sales response thanks to their 15 service engineers spread across the country. We are confident we can build on this first local installation to repeat the success we have had in Northern Europe and are proud to have been selected by Urbaser as a technology partner to transform more waste into resources".

A step toward circular economy with aluminium recycling

Within this technological leap, the focus on aluminium cans and aerosol cans recycling emerges as a crucial aspect. Aluminium, renowned for its recyclability, plays a pivotal role in inducing a circular economy. Aluminium can be recycled repeatedly without compromising its quality, showcasing its resilience in the recycling process. The recycling process for aluminium requires considerably less energy compared to primary aluminium production, making it an environmentally sustainable choice. By diverting aluminium from landfills and incorporating it back into the production cycle, a closed-loop system is fostered, aligning with global efforts to reduce waste and preserve resources. If the aluminium world is your field, have a look at AL Circle's Global Aluminium Industry Key Trends to 2030

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