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Compact, fully automated recycling system in each home

Image credit: https://automatedwasteservicesmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/trashremoval.jpg

Povilas S
Povilas S Oct 08, 2020
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It would be great to have a system installed in your home where you could just place any type of waste in and it would sort it out by itself. Just like you place rubbish in your rubbish bin one by one now, the machine would instantly sort that item out and put it under the right category. It might even do some separation, detaching one type of plastic from another, or carton from plastic on the same package, etc., but even without the latter function, it would be very useful. Different types of waste would then be "flushed down" through different tubes to the base of the building where they would be stored in large separate containers and taken out to recycling facilities regularly. There are already those kinds of tubes for general waste installed in some apartment buildings. Compostable waste could be used to provide soil for indoor plants in the same house or also brought to larger composting containers and used somewhere else.

It might cost a lot to design and install such systems in every household, but it wouldn't take long for it to pay off I think. This would have the following advantages:

  • would solve the problem of demotivation for people to recycle waste,
  • would require much less labor for those working in the industry as well as for everyone else,
  • would be time-saving and in the long run - money-saving,
  • such a machine could sort waste according to the specific needs of further recycling processes directly, which is practically impossible to do with manual recycling.

There are already mechanized systems capable of optical sorting of different types of waste, it would take to make them into a compact enough (say the size of a washing machine) device to make it convenient enough for domestic use.
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General comments

Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello3 years ago
The idea is a good one. But, it is cheaper to let a human sort the waste with our current level of technology. One could have a different bin for different types of waste. The cost and effort put into the automation will not be commensurate to the increased convenience the user experiences.

I believe such sorting already takes place but not near the user's home. The sorting usually takes place at the waste processing company. Whether humans or machines sort the wastes, it will be cheaper and more efficient if the waste is sorted at a waste processing firm. Sorting the waste before they are moved from the user's house is going to make the waste occupy more space because different waste categories will be placed in different containers. This will increase the overhead cost of the process by making the waste more expensive to transport.

Also, it may have been better to give the idea a different title since it is not a 'recycling system' but a waste sorting system that will make the process of recycling the waste easier.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 years ago
Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) is readily used in biology labs and medical facilities. Individual cells that need to be sorted pass through a tunnel. A laser sensor detects the cell type and transfers the cells to the appropriate vial. This technology can be utilized to sort the garbage automatically. FACS is expensive but has high precision and sensitivity to detect single cells. We don't need that high level of sensitivity to sort garbage. Moreover, all cells are made of the same material; hence, the level of specificity is also high in FACS. Garbage, on the other hand, is made of different materials and will be easier to sort. All of this and high production might bring down the cost to an affordable level. This is an alternative to the mechanized system mentioned by Povilas in the session.
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Robert Petrušić
Robert Petrušić4 years ago
Hello everyone. I have already designed the whole system that is most efficient. So: In the house you would have a small shredder. You insert trash and it shredds it to small particles. Then it is subdivided into 9 or more containers. On a press of the button you select type of trash to reduce the use of computers and keep the price low. In this way,the trash should be emptied way less, the garbage bags would be history. containers should also be sealed to stop the smell. Next step is taking the small containers to the local large container. There the containers are emptied and weighed. By using a personal household card you get part of the funds from your trash or participate in a lottery system big prize. When you connect the small container to the big it is emptyied and cleaned with hot steam that is recycled in the same container. Rest is just transport and separation of particles and recycling. There is much more to this. And yes, i really like the worm bin idea. But that would be a part of recycling plant.
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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain4 years ago
A really thoughtful and practical idea. Such a composting system would not only help us deal with the food waste, but also make us better gardeners and plant growers. In the future, I propose to step-up this composting game a bit and move towards making a fully automated vermicomposting apparatus for home and kitchen gardens. Composting is good, but vermicompost - the worm castings- is one of the best soil amendments that can exist. Vermicompost is superior to the normal compost any given day, by the virtue of the microbial community it houses, and also by the texture and grain of the castings that are excreted by the worms. The worm’s gut allows for the growth of bacteria and fungal communities that are beneficial for plant growth. Also, even with a modest feed with low-nutrient load, vermicompost yields a commendable result in terms of plant health and growth. Hence, the idea is to build an updated version of the composting system as proposed by you to maintain a continuous supply of feed for the worms, tightly monitored and regulated by a biosensor based apparatus. Basically, we would feed the system the degradable wastes from our kitchens, and the system will automatically turn the waste into a high-grade fertilizer, the vermicompost. For this, the automated system will take care of either of the two strains of earthworms- Eisenia foetida and Lumbricus rubellis. The system will be composed of the following different components: 1. Pretreatment Chamber Not all waste we produce in the kitchen will be ready to be used for feeding the worms. Hence, the system can contain the following pre-treatment options to make the input waste more palatable and easy to digest/convert for the worms we use. a) Mechanical Shredding This will break down the harder materials (eg broccoli stubs, kale roots, pomegranate peels) into finer pieces and make these wastages ready-to-mix into the softer food wastes; making a perfect mix for the worms. b) Inoculation of pre-existing compost Microbial communities in the inocula will speed up the fermentation/breakdown of the organic wastes and help the earthworms in their churning and digestion of the wastes. 2) (Bio)Sensors a)Thermal sensors These will monitor and control the temperature of the system. Also, thermal-based imaging can be used to examine the worm population. Once the population gets more than a certain threshold, the system shall split the population and keep only what is needed. b)Moisture sensors: These will monitor and regulate the amount of water in the system. It is important to keep the water content optimal in any composting system, and the sensors will make sure of that. c)Carbon-content/ Other gases sensing To not let methane and other gases accumulate to a toxic level, a gas-sensing mechanism can be installed that would limit the feed if the gas level is high. 3)Physical Seives/ meshes These will help keep the worms from falling into the final compost-tray which will be in the bottom chamber of the apparatus. The sieve size should be good enough to allow proper aeration. 4) Automated mechanical sorter This will sort the final product from the feed. Such a system would be fully automated with the use of the Internet of Things. Whenever there is something to be added or manually dealt with, the system shall notify the user (most possibly through mobile notifications).
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic4 years ago
This is a startup-worthy idea. A robotics/AI company to be more specific. Placing such machines into households would be of interest to the trash collecting companies. initially, to make the machines affordable, they could be subsidized by eco funds, just like they subsidize solar tech in some countries.
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