Redefining recycling sorting with Australia’s first AI-powered robot

Tetra Pak has partnered with Australian Paper Recovery (APR) Kerbside to implement the first AI robot in Australia to identify and sort used beverage cartons.

The robot has been commissioned at the APR Kerbside Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Truganina, Victoria, processing up to 20,000 tonnes of materials annually and mainly sorts items from the kerbside stream. 

The items collected from residents’ yellow-lidded recycling bins include paper, cardboard, steel, aluminium, and plastics.

The robot has been training, learning to recognise all the different types of beverage cartons, such as milk, soy, oat, almond, stock and juice, ahead of its final deployment in the coming weeks.

According to Tetra Pak, the councils working with APR Kerbside are excited about the opportunity to divert more valuable resources from landfill and are eager to expand the current kerbside service offering.

Tetra Pak Australia and New Zealand sustainability director Vikas Ahuja said, “Tetra Pak is incredibly proud to be pioneering this exciting recycling innovation with APR to advance the circular economy in Australia further. For us, at Tetra Pak, to be the first market outside of the US to introduce this AI-powered recycling robot is a testament to the steadfast progress we have been making in our sustainability journey in Australia.”

APR Kerbside managing director Darren Thorpe added, “We take pride in being at the forefront of recycling innovation in the ways we tackle resource management at our MRF.

“Future aspirations of expanding and working towards additional MRFs in Victoria will allow us to increase our processing capacity. We are looking to install more AI robots as part of our upgrade and expansion plans. 

“It is our commitment to continue supporting carton recycling infrastructure and enable the circular economy so that Australians know their recycling efforts aren’t going to waste.”

Tetra Pak has also supported opening Australia’s first beverage carton recycling facility in Warragamba, New South Wales. 

APR Kerbside plans to transport Tetra Pak beverage cartons to the newly opened saveBOARD facility in Warragamba NSW so they can be recycled into sustainable building materials until the saveBOARD plant in Victoria comes into operation in 2024.

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