A robot capable of automatically sorting rubbish into six categories of recycled waste using laser detectors has been developed by scientists in Japan.

The device, created by Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Corp and Osaka University researchers, identifies different plastic materials among rubbish and sorts them into piles.

Consisting of a robotic arm, the robot measures 5ft 6ins (1.7m) by 6ft 9ins (2.1m) and uses five laser beams and sensors to detect a range of different plastics for recycling purposes.

Source: Recycling robot sorts rubbish into six piles

Rubbish division is a serious industry in Japan, with households responsible for dividing up their waste into several categories – from burnable to recyclable – on various days of the week.

However, plastic recycling is currently very limited: only two types of waste plastics are currently recycled, with other plastics incinerated with general rubbish.

The new robot aims to boost plastic recycling levels by identifying six different types of plastics that can be recycled and sorted from general rubbish collections.

Trial versions of the waste-sorting robot, developed in conjunction with the Japanese manufacturing company IDEC Corp, are currently undergoing demonstration tests at two stores in Osaka and Nara.

Plans to commercialise a smaller version of the automatic rubbish sorter are in the pipelines at IDEC, which plans to sell them for around £37,000 (five million yen).

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