Canadian Plastics

New AI will sort recyclable plastic in B.C. by the end of 2021

Technology developer Metaspectral has been awarded more than $300,000 to develop AI-powered technology that can sort plastics automatically.

May 26, 2021   Canadian Plastics

Vancouver-based technology developer Metaspectral has been awarded more than $300,000 in grant funding to develop new techniques for sorting post-consumer recycled plastic.

The funding comes from the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund, which is funded by the British Columbia government and administered by Alacrity Cleantech.

In a May 25 news release, officials with Metaspectral – which develops technology that derives real-time insights from AI using ultra-high-resolution, visible-to-infrared (hyperspectral) imagery – say they will use this funding for the development of computer vision, artificial intelligence, and robotics designed to sort consumer waste, increase efficiency in processing materials, and improve the quality of post-consumer recycled plastic.

The project is slated for completion by Dec. 31, 2021.

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“By using ultra-high-resolution hyperspectral imaging, our AI is able to efficiently distinguish among types of plastics for accurate and easy sorting,” said Francis Doumet, CEO of Metaspectral. “It is impossible for humans to differentiate between different types of clear plastic bottles with the naked eye, so until now, various types of recycled clear plastics were sold together in bulk, decreasing the quality and value of the finished recycled material. Our technology will make it possible to differentiate between otherwise indistinguishable materials in real-time, automatically, meaning that large quantities of plastic can be sorted and recycled more efficiently and accurately.”

The project supports recycling targets set by the B.C. provincial government, the news release said, and will also be contributing to the federal government’s Greening Government strategy of increasing the ratio of plastics that are recycled to 75 per cent by 2030, up from nine per cent today.


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