Increasing the utilization rate of plastic waste through AI-based combination of manual sorting and micro-automation

About the project

The RecycleBot project aims to increase the recycling rate of plastic waste by optimizing the sorting process using artificial intelligence. For this purpose, in addition to large automated sorting systems, smaller collaborative robots (RecycleBots) are used, which can take over tasks previously performed manually. They improve the overall recycling process by better distinguishing between the different types of plastics and making sorting not only easier but also less error-prone.

GreenDelta in the project

In this project, GreenDelta develops tools and methodologies to compare the environmental and economic benefits of an AI-assisted plastic sorting process. This will include an LCA study of sorted plastic materials and an in-depth economic analysis using the openLCA software. Moreover, holistic effects like improved sorting processes and reduced fossil resource usage will be made.


The parties working on this project are: 

  • Hochschule Aalen – Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft

  • Gesellschaft im Ostalbkreis für Abfallbewirtschaftung mbH

  • GreenDelta GmbH
  • WeSort.Al GmbH

  • Holzer GmbH



Plastic packaging such as PET or PE is made from fossil resources. Recycling plastics is enormously important for reducing waste, conserving valuable resources, and optimally reintegrating them into the material cycle. For this purpose, plastic waste is sorted by type, cleaned, and processed. However, the sorting process is nowadays very complex and error-prone. An automated sorting system is often preceded by manual sorting. To increase the amount of clean recycled plastic waste streams and reduce the environmental burden, improved sorting processes are required.


Links and Resources

Project funded by the Bundesministerium für Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz (BMUV).

Website with more information.

Project duration: 2023 – 2026

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