Veolia implements AI driven robotic at Southwark facility

Veolia has unveiled an innovative robotic arm at its Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) to optimise operations and make recycling more effective.
Copyright: Veolia

The robot is being used at Veolia Southwark IWMF to pick out paper, card, mixed plastics and beverage cartons, which often contain some aluminium layers, from the aluminium line leaving just pure aluminium items for effective recycling.

As part of its new strategic plan GreenUP, Veolia will use this data to make informed decisions to run the facility at maximum efficiency and monitor seasonal changes in waste composition, accelerating ecological transformation through AI and innovations.

The robotic solution is made up of a camera, a 6-axis robotic arm, pneumatics system and a compute box. The robot “picks” the item by using compressed air and a silicon gripper, then twists to face the correct sorting bin location, and then blows the item off the gripper and into the bin. This advanced technology means that the aluminium picking process can be streamlined and removes contamination from the final recyclate. The robot will pick between 35 and 50 items per minute, supporting frontline staff to increase the quality and quantity of materials recovered at the facility. As the objects pass along the belt, they are also scanned and recorded. This data is uploaded to the cloud and can be presented in the form of user-friendly dashboards.

Aluminium plays an important role in many industries including the green technology sector and is used in large quantities for wind turbines and electric vehicles, two products vital to becoming more sustainable. Improving the capture of aluminium will allow for more effective recycling to support the growing global demand for the metal.

This project is supported by The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) which represents the top manufacturers of food and drink cartons in the UK and Europe.


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