Realistically, the only real way to reduce plastic waste is for companies to produce less of it in the first place. Until that time comes about through legislative bans, we need to avoid dumping refuse in a landfill whenever possible. Each of us should use, then reuse, materials, possibly in new forms. New to the marketplace, household recycling devices are a contemporary extension of the longtime protect-your-manse mantra: reuse, repurpose, recycle. Repeat.
Technology companies are trying to solve the waste dilemma with all kinds of ideas, from improving recycling processes and creating new materials to making single-use products that are compostable. Many of the innovations are becoming available, and several are meeting consumer requirements for low cost and a company’s needs for acceptable mass manufacturing.
Are you a savvy recycler, really? Test your knowledge about what you can and cannot recycle by taking this recycling quiz. Knowing what’s what can help you to decide if you’re ready to join the household recycling machine trend.
Household recycling is an appealing modern option, and the technology is emerging to make it feasible. Let’s look at the progress that tech companies are making to make household recycling manageable at home.
Household Recycling Appliances — What’s New in Startups?
Lasso Loop (UK) is a kitchen appliance-sized machine that automatically sorts and breaks down the recyclables you toss inside it. The company got a lot of love at CES earlier this year. The device offers “simple, convenient, and incentivized recycling,” according to a company press release. Lasso growth manager Dominique Leonard told the Washington Post that the machine uses a smattering of sensors, cameras, and AI to determine whether the stuff you’ve put inside it can be recycled. If you’ve made a household recycling faux pas, those items are rejected. The approved plastic, glass, and metal products are steam cleaned, broken apart, and stored separately in a series of bins based on type to prevent contamination.
The Lasso team plans to sell its machine for $5,000 — or $3,500 with a prelaunch discount — to start, though it hopes incentives from local governments will help to make the product affordable for the typical homeowner and to facilitate “the planet’s vital circular economy.”
ClearDrop (US) has a product called a Minimizer, which is a soft plastics compactor (SPC). You place all soft plastic bags, wrappers, and packaging into the SPC, and a patent-pending automatic process will compact and seal the pile, utilizing the melting properties of the plastic itself. No harmful substances are released. The Minimizer heats and compresses the bags to form a slightly squishy brick.
The next step in the world of household recycling will be to have municipalities accept soft plastics and recycle them into materials for other products. That loop among plastic packaging manufacturers, recycling facilities, and soft plastics is somewhere in the future for right now. The company hopes to be able to move into the production stage by the end of 2022, with purchase price around $150.
Ridwell (US) is a waste reduction service that attempts to make it easier for households to reduce the amount of material that they’re putting into the landfill every week. Roughly 20,000 households in the Portland metro area are customers of Ridwell, a Seattle-based startup that offers a monthly subscription service to pick up items like batteries, light bulbs, and plastic clamshell containers that typically can’t go inside curbside recycling bins. They pick up items and get them to organizations that can reuse or recycle them. Plastic film, for example, is going to Trex in Nevada, and Trex turns the plastic film into composite wood decking. Your plastic can become tomorrow’s playgrounds and neighbor’s decks.
A subscription comes with a pickup opportunity every 2 weeks, a bin, cloth bag set, and a featured category every pickup. The cost in a Portland zip code area starts at $16 per month with a 3-month commitment.
Bin-e has a mission to revolutionize recycling chains by creating a systematic solution that fully automizes waste management. A short film on the company’s website shows the simplicity of the “world’s smartest waste bin.” After an automatic flap opens up, you drop in the item, wait for the machine to approve the material type, and walk away. The bin sorts raw material through automatic recognition and segregation. Thanks to the compression of plastic and paper, the frequency of emptying the bins is reduced by half.
Probably best suited for an office environment, the device’s dimensions are 120 cm x 120 cm x 60 cm with a capacity (uncompressed) of 0.3m3 and (compressed) of 0.8m3. It uses an AC electric power supply 230V WiFi and LAN internet connection.
2b0.io (To Be Zero) is a recycling device that uses automation so material recognition occurs through AI auto-sorting. The IoT-driven robotics prompt material grinding that reduces volume 15:1, as the ground material is vacuum packed. Described as an opportunity for data collection and analysis and accompanied by a mobile app to help consumers change their purchasing habits, the 2b0 innovative, patented technology integrates solutions and services for residential, municipal, and commercial applications.
By reducing friction to recycle materials while monitoring and adjusting product consumption, 2B0’s intelligent stack allows customers to be informed and rewarded using Sustainability as a Platform (SusP). 2B0’s connected applications gather real-time data for analysis and offer suggested methods for further reducing waste — with the ultimate goal “to be zero.”
Repod (IT) is a smart appliance that simplifies separate waste collection. Italian patent approved and PCT international patent procedure initiated, the device saves space in the kitchen while it measures performance and has the capacity to share the data with clients. The company has been awarded 3 public tenders for €235,000, and a complete prototype has been created. Now the next steps for the startup are to launch on the Italian and European markets by starting a pilot project with a municipality.
Closed Loop (AU) partners clients bigger than the average apartment or home dweller to cost effective and sustainable solutions by identifying unused resources, maximizing the value of those resources, and saving money on waste management.
The first step to effective and sustainable resource management is a Closed Loop detailed resource audit. Once the organization understands its supply chain, including waste costs, short and long term business strategizing takes place. Closed Loop analyses the financial, social, and environmental return of waste and recommends how to convert it into products that go back into the organization’s supply chain. The company’s areas of expertise include sustainable packaging, cup recycling, upcycling waste, processing organic waste, resource management, and event waste management.
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