To aid recyclers, University of Hyderabad comes up with low-cost solution to sort plastic waste

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January 29, 2021 10:55 AM

The team, which included Rajendhar Junjuri, a doctoral scholar, and Dr G Manoj Kumar, an associate professor, made the use of LIBS or Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy.

plastic waste sortingThe method, the team believes, would aid the manufacturers using recycled products.

Plastic waste: Low-cost solution to sort plastic waste devised by University of Hyderabad! As plastic remains a widespread problem, there is a need to find effective solutions to sort the waste and understand how to deal with it. Majority of the products in use today make use of plastic, which is highly harmful for the environment, be it marine ecosystem, the terrestrial one or the atmosphere. But now, University of Hyderabad’s researchers have devised a low-cost solution that would help in sorting out plastic waste, and the solution offers an average accuracy of 97% in identification of the plastic samples, according to a report in IE.

The team, which included Rajendhar Junjuri, a doctoral scholar, and Dr G Manoj Kumar, an associate professor, made the use of LIBS or Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy, which is a technique based on laser. With the use of LIBS, the team generated data regarding the various types of plastic, after which they combined this data with machine learning to enable the solution to identify these plastics as well. For this, there was a need to simulate a situation where the real-time application of the solution could be tested and to make that happen, the team collected the samples of plastic waste from Telangana’s Nirmal district-based plastic waste sorting unit.

The report stated that the research team believes they have come up with a solution that has a great potential to give the world a system that would be able to identify the quality of the plastic at a low cost and on a contactless basis, and this sorting procedure would aid in appropriate recycling for the various plastic items.

Citing Kumar, the report said that one of the ways to address the increasing problem of plastic is recycling, but for that, accurate identification of the type plastic is necessary. The issue is complicated by the number of varieties of plastic and the ignorance of people towards the proper recycling of these items based on the recycling numbers assigned to them. Another issue is that sometimes, items consist of plastic of different types. Thus, Kumar said, their solution informs people about the type of plastic the item is made of when the laser is shone on it.

The report further quoted Kumar as saying that currently, labourers are employed by recyclers to physically identify the type of plastic by bending it or burning it, and any misidentification at this stage can cause an issue regarding the quality of the recycled product.

The method, the team believes, would aid the manufacturers using recycled products to accurately determine the cost as well as the quality of the raw material. The research has been published by the Optical Society of America.

Kumar, however, was quoted by the report as saying that the team did not intend to go to the market with a product.

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