Machine Vision has been steadily on the rise to improve the efficiency of various industrial processes. As we all know, time is money. But machine vision can have much more significant benefits, not just through improved mass production, but from an environmental and social standpoint.

The very basic definition of machine vision is the automatic extraction of information from digital images. Essentially, sensors, digital imagery and computer analysis replace human eyes and judgement from manufacturing processes. And while this has massive advantageous implications on a border scale, machine vision is a particularly useful asset when it comes to recycling. Click here for more interesting info and fun articles on subjects like tech and automation in business practices.

Do you really understand Recycling?

Despite having eco-friendly, socially responsible connotations, the world of recycling is still, largely, a figurative and literal mess. By now, most people recycle at home. You see various inviting green receptacles all over the place. While those are all steps in the right direction, the logistics of handling recycling and plastic waste on a global scale are, in many ways, atrocious.

Countries that can afford it simply ship their plastic waste to far off destinations. Many adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” philosophy. Meanwhile, underdeveloped countries, often overpopulated, raise little to no awareness of the importance of reducing waste and encouraging sustainable practices.

Is Machine Vision the way forward?

But machine vision can seriously revolutionise our commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices. Besides its applications in manufacturing, which significantly reduces waste and surplus industry, machine vision can make recycling a vastly more efficient and profitable industry.

When you look at your shampoo bottle you’ll probably notice a bunch of tiny or faintly embossed symbols. A number in a triangle or the arrow “ying-yang” might be visible. Or maybe even occasional instructions on whether or not you can recycle the item with your other household waste. But what do those symbols even mean? Some, believe it or not, mean absolutely nothing. 

Residual markers from the production process, nothing more. And there we were, thinking the arrow circle was the universal symbol for recyclable materials. Most people at home have no idea what is ACTUALLY recyclable. Errors are common and result in recyclable materials going to landfill.

Human beings are unable to sort the huge amounts of waste produced each day efficiently. Machine vision can be programmed to instantly recognise not just bizarre industry stamps and codes. It can recognise and analyse the composition of an item, thus instantly knowing how and where it should be sorted. Machine vision can vastly outstrip human inspection in terms of accuracy, consistency, speed and volume. 

A machine doesn’t tire or get bored and can sort through tons of plastic, vastly improving rates of recycling. While we can make more and more effort at home to help end the plastic crisis.