Towards Ever Smarter Waste Recycling

Summary

The recycling industry is experiencing unprecedented growth due to the central role that it plays with the manufacturing sector, faced with the double challenge of reducing its energy waste while securing raw material supplies for its production centers. Spotlight on three companies in the industry that are innovating at different stages in the industrial waste treatment chain.

22Fév.
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With Rubicon Global, one click, and your waste is collected

The US start-up Rubicon Global : the media are calling it the Uber of waste management.

The media are calling it the Uber of waste management. The US start-up Rubicon Global offers companies on-demand waste collection and transportation services.

While legislation compels the vast majority of them to sort and treat the waste they produce, Rubicon Global simplifies the task for them. In concrete terms, it analyzes a company’s needs and finds solutions to optimize the transportation of its waste to the closest recycling facilities. It provides this service by auctioning off waste collection contracts, based on the locations of companies with waste and the quantity they need treated. This process shortens and optimizes waste collection trucks’ routes. And, in addition to a reduced environmental impact, it also promises 20-30% savings for its clients.

As the icing on the cake, this model gives small local recycling firms a chance against larger organizations that have dominated the waste management market until now. Meanwhile, investors are totally on board, and have just allocated $50 million to Rubicon Global to launch its first mobile application.

Green Creative: handling the minutiae of sorting

In France, too, innovation is making recycling smarter. This is illustrated by Flexidry, a machine invented by the start-up Green Creative, which separates biowaste from packaging without crushing or water, and is particularly useful to restaurants and the agrifood industry.

And that’s not all: the biowaste recovered, which is, by its very nature, fermentable, can be transformed into biogas through methanization, or into natural fertilizer. Flexidry “was indeed designed to meet the needs of the methanization and composting treatment chains. These industries require quality paste, i.e. containing as few pieces of packaging as possible,” explains Lucile, President of Green Creative, in L’Usine Nouvelle. The machine can also treat five metric tons of waste per hour.

Another innovation offered by the French company, this time for places where beverages are consumed (train stations, workplaces, etc.), comes in the form of a smart trash can whose name was inspired by Georges Lucas: R3D3. Unlike a classic trash can, it automatically recognizes, sorts and compacts cans, plastic cups and plastic bottles. And – the ultimate touch of efficiency – it can notify maintenance providers when its compartments are full.

Have some non-recyclables? Terracycle and 3D Brooklyn can give them a second life

Not all waste is recyclable, starting with certain categories of plastics. Chip bags are one of these, and are collected in very large quantities by US company Terracycle, which then has 3D Brooklyn transform them into a new type of “printable” raw material.

Terracycle first has an intermediary transform chip bags into pellets, or small balls of plastic: a form that 3D Brooklyn can then easily stretch out into filaments. And these filaments are to 3D printers what an ink cartridge is to a traditional printer. The end result is that 3D Brooklyn can now create office supplies by reusing plastic that, in its original state, would only wind up on Terracycle’s garbage heap.

Photo © Danone

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