Robotic sorter using ZenRobotics technology for industrial waste

Norwegian waste management frontrunner Bjorstaddalen has opened the country’s first robotic sorting facility for C&D and C&I waste in the municipality of Skien in Norway.

Bjorstaddalen Avfallsanlegg AS is a holding company wholly owned by Skien municipality. A short distance to both the port of Grenland and the road E18 between Oslo and Kristiansand makes the facility attractive to more than the business community in Grenland.

The facility recently has been supplied with the fully automated robotic sorting station by ZenRobotics. The new robotic sorting facility will substantially increase material recovery at Bjorstaddalen and make a major move from waste incineration toward a circular economy in the Nordic country.

“AI and robotic technologies capture an increasing number of valuable high-purity materials in a cost-efficient and accurate way”, says ZenRobotics’ CEO Wolfgang Schiller.
The AI-powered robots sort several fractions from industrial waste and are also trained to recognize new ones, opening up new business opportunities for the Norwegian waste industry frontrunner.

“The waste industry is set to become further digitalized and automated already in the coming years. Our forward-looking customers are investing in intelligent sorting robots now to get a headstart in applying these emerging technologies and build a competitive edge in the market”, continues Schiller.

The new Bjorstaddalen station features robotic arms that will perform up to 6000 picks per hour. The robotic sorting station is set up as a standalone waste sorting process connected to Bjorstaddalen’s existing material recycling facility that has a total capacity of 150 000 tons per year.

Robots enable a dramatic increase in material recovery

By investing in AI and robot technologies, Bjorstaddalen aims to become a leader in material recycling in Norway. “It has long worried us that there is a low degree of material recycling in Norway compared to other countries. We are good at recovering energy in this country, but that only means that waste is incinerated. We want to do something about this”, says Executive Vice President Sindre Hauen from Bjorstaddalen.

New sorted fractions bring new customers

The intelligent sorting robots are able to recover fractions that are currently recycled at the facility such as A, B and C wood, non-metals, hard plastics, black plastics and inert. However, Bjorstaddalen sees even bigger opportunities in the future.

“The robots can be trained to identify interesting new fractions. If new markets open up in the future, or there are new demands from the authorities, the robotic plant can be trained to recognize these factions as well”, continues Executive Vice President Hauen.

Bjorstaddalen is currently further developing and ramping up the robotic sorting line to identify different kinds of recycled waste. The company has already entered into agreements with several customers who want to use the sorted fractions as raw material.

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