UL-based research aims to boost recycling efficiency in Ireland

23 Sep 2021

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Researchers at Confirm will work with software company AMCS to find new ways to use AI, machine learning and computer vision to improve waste management.

A two-year research collaboration aims to find technology that can improve recycling efficiency in Ireland. Researchers at Confirm, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for smart manufacturing based at the University of Limerick (UL), will work with Limerick-based waste recycling software firm AMCS.

The project will look for new ways to apply cutting-edge technology to automate and improve waste management for global companies that work in the sector, targeting contamination in collected recyclable materials.

“We are delighted to announce our collaboration with Confirm, a local, world-class research centre. This application of cutting-edge technologies has the potential to automate at scale the identification and management of collection exceptions,” said AMCS CEO Jim Martin.

Using technology that is usually found in smart manufacturing, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision, researchers at Confirm will work with AMCS to fully automate processes and minimise human intervention.

Martin added that the collaboration could deliver “significant value” for customers seeking to improve resource management, sustainability and margin protection. “This project is a core part of our ‘smart city’ strategy where we are focused on delivering future-proof solutions for tomorrow’s connected waste infrastructure.”

AMCS employs 600 people in 11 countries. It is headquartered in Limerick with offices in Europe, North America and Australia, and in May it snapped up Dublin waste management software company Dataset Solutions to further its reach.

Circular economy

Prof Conor McCarthy, director of Confirm, said that the collaboration with AMCS highlights the diverse nature of the research centre’s work.

“Confirm’s key focus is on the development of cutting-edge key enabling technologies such as vision systems, AI, machine learning and system integration to enhance manufacturing both in Ireland and globally, and this project is an excellent example of how our researchers, with very disparate skills, can come together with industry to solve complex problems.”

With a focus on Ireland’s circular economy, one of the project’s objectives is to automate the identification, tracking and resolution of contaminated material close to the point of collection.

“This project is particularly exciting as it will have a significant positive environmental impact by promoting recycling and reuse of products, thus helping create smarter supply chains that will help us realise a circular economy,” McCarthy added.

Launched in 2017, Confirm spans nine Irish higher education institutes led by UL. It brings together more than 60 academics and 170 researchers across Ireland.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic