Container Deposit Systems Sorting out recycling

Container Deposit System’s Bulk Redemption Terminal (BRT) has won another innovation award for the state of the art recycling technology developed.

In partnership with SAGE Automation, the system picked up the Best Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) Application at the recent 2018 Endeavour Awards. The Manufacturers’ Monthly Endeavour Awards are recognised as the premier Awards program for the Australian manufacturing industry. The program promotes, recognises and rewards excellence within the industry.

The BRT autonomously counts and sorts containers when delivered to container deposit recycling facilities.  The system was developed in South Australia to improve processing inefficiencies experienced by the recycling depot industry to increase the impact of the Australian Container Deposit Legislation scheme. 

“We knew manual sorting of containers was a pain point in the customer process and other technological solutions weren’t quite hitting the mark,” Container Deposit Systems, Executive Chairman Brett Duncanson said.

So, what’s the current issue?

Majority of container processing undertaken in recycling facilities is currently manual. This process is both costly and time-consuming.  In addition, the current process also causes inaccuracy because of simple human error.  This results in facilities losing out financially as they do not receive the container deposit refund when containers are sorted incorrectly.

The current pressing issue is; this limits the total processing capacity of recycling facilities resulting in less containers being processed per day. This issue is particularly important as Australia needs to dramatically improve its recycling capacity due to the China Export Ban, which came into place in January 2018.

Australia sent 1.2 million tonnes of waste to China in 2016-2017 — meaning about 30 per cent of Australia's recyclable waste was exported to China.[1] With the ban in place, Australia needs to implement new systems to meet the high recycling needs demanded.  The impacts of the waste ban combined with inefficient systems are already being experienced. Across Australia, councils are now having to negotiate with waste collection companies to ensure waste collection is commercially viable. This has increased the rates for councils which is expected to be passed on to homeowners.[2]

The NEW Recycling Technology Solution

The multi-award-winning BRT, developed by Container Deposit Systems in partnership with SAGE, supports the recycling industry by increasing efficiencies in the sorting process; thus, making recycling depots more financially stable. The Terminal automatically sorts and counts containers in any condition. It has five skids with 26 conveyors and a central vision system camera which identifies each item and sorts them using a smart algorithm.

To further support recycling facility efficiencies, once containers are sorted, the system then calculates the container deposit refund amount based on the container count and produces a refund receipt for the customer.

Technological innovations, such as the BRT, are vital in supporting Australia transition to a circular recycling economy and developing a recycled product manufacturing industry.

Circular Economy Recycling.png

The need for an Australian Recycled Products Manufacturing Industry

A recent ABC report highlighted the Australian Recycling Industry is calling for assistance to help it transition to a so-called 'circular economy' where waste would be collected, processed and then reused to make new products here in Australia.

The report further states that if the circular economy is not achieved, recycling rates will drop, causing serious environmental harm as more waste gets dumped in landfill.[3]

However, the onus to create this should not just be on the recycling industry.

As beverage companies transition to using only recycled materials in their bottle manufacturing, the demand for recycled goods will increase and more companies will seek to provide recycled manufacturing solutions.

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In addition to companies opting to use recycled goods, Gayle Sloan (CEO of Waste Management Association of Australia) says that “federal and state governments have made the use of recycled products voluntary, and while manufacturers trumpet the production of recyclable packaging, the track record on the use of recycled material is less impressive.”[4]

A circular recycling economy needs support from all parties; recycling industry, food & beverage (and product) manufacturers, government and households. And whilst this may feel like a long way off in Australia, as a country we can learn from our global counterparts.

Government legislation has supported much of the recycling drive across Europe, with the continent claiming 8 of the top 10 places for ‘best recycling countries’.[5] The European Union (EU) announced in May 2018 that ministers had given their approval to the revised legislation on waste, moving Europe towards a circular economy. The legislation ensures that valuable material embedded in waste is effectively reused, recycled and re-injected into the European economy. Thereby, helping to move towards a circular economy and to reduce the EU's dependence on the import of raw materials by promoting the prudent, efficient and rational use of natural resources.[6]

In Germany (currently holding the top place in global recycling rates) a new packaging law was approved in 2017 to improve recycling rates even further. The Verpackungsgesetz, will come into effect in January 2019 which sets recycling targets of 63 per cent for plastic packaging and 90 per cent for metal, glass and paper.  The new law will also provide incentives for use of recycled and renewable materials.  Legislation such as this will increase demand for recycled products, leading to an increase in recycled product manufacturing.

Globally opportunity for the BRT

“More than 480bn plastic drinking bottles were sold in 2016 across the world, up from about 300bn a decade ago. If placed end to end, they would extend more than halfway to the sun. By 2021 this will increase to 583.3bn” Euromonitor International’s global packaging trends report[7]

A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some campaigners predict will be as serious as climate change. [8]

The new South Australian BRT technology developed is not just important for Australia, but it also has the opportunity to play a significant role in supporting the global plastic crisis.  Globally, the demand for recycled products will continue to increase and new recycling innovations will need to be created to keep up with quantity demanded.  

“South Australia has the opportunity to be a global leader in the recycling revolution”, said Duncanson, “it is exciting to see the recycling innovation happening locally (in South Australia) and we are looking forward to continuing our work with local partners to help shape the future of a circular recycling economy.”


About Container Deposit Systems 

Container Deposit Systems was formed with a vision to oversee the implementation of improved operational practices in recycling facilities.  The company offers a range of services to recycling depot facilities to drive productivity improvements and transition traditional recycling facilities into modern technically advanced operators.

The company achieve this through patented technologies which deliver manufacturing automation to auto-sort materials via a highly sensitive multi-sensor integration.  Systems integrations enable facilities to further gain efficiencies through workflows, materials handling, logistic processes, facility layout and design, customer interaction and data acquisition and management. 

Container Deposit Systems technologies are designed and manufactured in Australia with local partners Sage Automation and Macweld Engineering.

For more information, please contact us directly.