Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Lacey Williams on Unsplash

AI-powered reverse vending machines


The fully customisable platform can accept any type of beverage container and offers rewards to users

Spotted: Most beverage bottles are recyclable, but actual recycle rates vary significantly. For example, although most glass is 100 per cent recyclable, only around 32 per cent of glass containers are actually recycled – and the figure for plastic beverage bottles is much worse. A Thai startup called Sustaintech is hoping to change this with a sustainable reward system for beverage bottle recycling.

Sustaintech has developed the CircularOne, an artificial-intelligence-enabled (AI) reverse vending machine that’s placed in stores. Users can deposit their used bottles in the machine. Using AI and visual analytics, the machine is able to automatically check the material quality and sort the containers, including PET bottles, aluminium cans, and glass bottles.

The CircularOne can identify each type of container, scan bar codes, and measure weight to determine if there is any liquid left in the container. ‘Depositors’ can then receive a variety of rewards for their deposit – such as vouchers, contributions to charity, or digital tokens for future purchases. The machines can also be customised to match store design, branding, and reward options.

Sustaintech has partnered with Tencent Cloud to allow the platform to produce and analyse data on the type of materials recycled. Mr. Chang Foo, COO of Tencent (Thailand), commented that, “Apart from sorting used containers, [Sustaintech’s] solutions can also detect and eject broken or damaged glass bottles and send notifications which consume less time and make the sorting process more effective.”

With recycling rates for materials like plastic and glass still quite low in many countries, it is vital to try and make improvements. Innovations that Springwise has recently spotted, like carbon-negative textiles and a backpack made from recycled plastic, are helping to show the way to circularity.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



Download PDF