In a bid to improve its position in the AI space, TOMRA has acquired a 25% stake in start-up PolyPerception, which develops AI-based waste flow monitoring for PET recyclers and sorting plants.

PolyPerception measures data at key points in the sorting process to unlock continuous quality assessment in sorted streams and identify the loss of good material in the residual stream. In turn, it is set to contribute to data-driven decisions.

It is also set to function as an automated compliance system. As local legislation and rules surrounding food-grade recycling become more rigorous, PolyPerception expects its technology to increase in demand.

After its initial collaboration with PolyPerception in December 2022, TOMRA expects that its stake in the company will strengthen its position in the artificial intelligence space and benefit its own pursuit of improved resource recovery.

Dr. Volker Rehrmann, head of TOMRA Recycling, explained: “By expanding our cooperation with PolyPerception, we can combine our advanced material sorting systems and cloud-based monitoring solution with the company’s innovative material analysis.

“This synergy enables us to enhance the optimization of the entire process and material flow, providing a significant advantage to our customers. Plus, it now allows us to harness PolyPerceptions’ data and AI expertise for continued enhancements to our machinery.

“We are convinced that AI together with the power of our well-established sensors will heavily boost material circularity. Our internal development teams are working at high speed, you’ll hear more from TOMRA in this regard in the first half of 2024!”

Nicolas Braem, co-founder and CEO of PolyPerception, added: “We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with TOMRA as a key strategic ally and distributor. Thanks to TOMRA’s pole position in the market and extensive industry knowledge, we can accelerate the development of our technology and gain increased market visibility to speed up commercialization.

“Additionally, we’re enthusiastic about exploring additional collaborative opportunities to drive our mission of automating sorting processes even faster. It’s a win-win!”

In a similar development, a strategic development between Bollegraaf and Greyparrot aims to retrofit recycling plants with AI technology. Bollegraaf will transfer its AI vision business to Greyparrot, take a non-controlling stake in the company, and become a worldwide distributor for its AI waste analytics platform.

Recycleye, Valorplast, and TotalEnergies have also reported that Project OMNI, a research project that utilizes AI and machine learning to identify and separate food-grade polypropylene from household post-consumer waste, has led to ‘ground-breaking results’.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy:

The Lidl approach to packaging sustainability

How did Brazil achieve its 100% aluminium can recycling rate – and can it be replicated in the EU?

Experts have their say on the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive revisions

A deep dive into the most important packaging sustainability trends and solutions