AI will detect people sorting waste in the wrong garbage cans

AI will detect people sorting waste in the wrong garbage cans

To punish those who don't sort their garbage correctly, cameras are installed in garbage trucks and their images are analyzed by an AI.

The proliferation of waste sorting bins in our towns and cities has become a ubiquitous sight, with colors ranging from green garbage cans to yellow bins, brown bins, and blue garbage cans, each designated for specific types of waste. Yet, despite the efforts to streamline waste management systems, errors persist. Every year, more than 10 kilos of waste are improperly sorted by French citizens alone. Imagine how much garbage is sorted the wrong way globally! This presents a significant challenge as it leads to additional costs for municipalities, which must either re-sort the waste or, in some cases, resort to sending entire containers of recyclable materials for destruction due to contamination from improperly sorted items. But what can be done?

In Auckland, Australia, the city will start experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI) in recycling trucks to identify the wrong types of waste and help target those who repeatedly use the wrong garbage cans. Waste collection staff report that the rate of incorrectly sorted waste has risen from 20% to 25% since stricter rules were introduced two months ago.

To bolster the effectiveness of waste sorting efforts, the city is implementing an innovative solution harnessing the power of artificial intelligence. The centerpiece of this initiative is a sophisticated system comprising two cameras fixed to waste collection trucks. These cameras will capture images of the contents of the bins as they are emptied into the trucks. Subsequently, the images will be transmitted to cutting-edge object-recognition software, equipped with advanced algorithms capable of swiftly analyzing the visual data.

The AI data will be used to determine the GPS coordinates of the person who has made a sorting error, with an approximate accuracy of 10 houses. After that, garbage can inspectors will follow up. Sorting errors cost Aucklanders almost €3 million a year.

In France and other European countries, since January 1, 2024, mis-sorting waste is punishable by a fine of 35 euros. An apple peel in the glass garbage can, a cheese rind in the yellow bin can theoretically result in a fine. Municipal police officers and criminal investigation officers can punish offenders. 

The ecological concern is growing and sorting garbage is crucial because it helps us recycle and reuse materials, just like how every plant and animal has a role in the jungle. When we separate our waste, we give things like plastic and paper a chance to be used again instead of ending up in a landfill. It's all about keeping our environment in balance and making sure we use resources wisely.