AI-powered robot recycling plant for construction waste

Shot of AI-powered robot recycling of C&D waste

A Swiss-based circular economy pioneer has made a major investment into a groundbreaking new recycling plant that utilises smart robots to recover value from mixed construction waste at a rate of 200 tons per hour. Powered by advanced artificial intelligence (AI), the robot technolgies will sort construction and demolition (C&D) waste that is then converted on-site into valuable secondary raw materials for reuse.

Swiss family-owned company the Eberhard Group is building the new state-of-the-art recycling plant called EbiMIK (short term for Eberhard – materials in circulation) in Oberglatt, Switzerland, with completion due Autumn 2021.

The new facility will feature an advanced AI and smart robotic technologies sorting system from ZenRobotics that includes two parallel lines with multiple high-capacity heavy duty robots on each line. The job of the robots is to capture high-value and high-purity materials from mixed C&D waste.

Recovered by robots, these recycled materials will then be converted at the new plant into circular raw materials, equal in quality to primary materials, for use again in the construction industry.

Eberhard’s plant is a hallmark example of circular economy innovation, turning waste into value and significantly reducing CO2 emissions and environmental pressures from resource extraction. 

Construction and demolition waste is a considerable source of secondary waste materials worldwide. In the European Union, it makes up approximately one third of the total waste generated. The EU’s target is to recover, recycle or reuse at least 70% of this waste by the end of 2020.

At present, many of the material streams from C&D waste are, however, not suitable for reuse or high-grade recycling. Instead, mixed construction waste is still widely used today as low-grade material or is even dumped. In Switzerland, maximally 10% of the total 7.5 million tons of C&D  waste generated per year is sustainably recycled today. 

Eberhard’s investment into this new high-capacity recycling center enables the company to boost the highest quality secondary raw materials for its customers and helps to lift recycling rates in the C&D industry. In addition to the state-of-the-art construction waste plant, a raw material storage and a component production facility are also being built for the new EbiMIK recycling center.  

The recycling capabilities of the advanced plant promise to deliver a revolutionary new approach, explains Patrick van der Haegen, Division Head Development at Eberhard:

“EbiMIK converts mixed demolition waste into fully circular secondary raw materials. Mixed demolition waste no longer needs to be downcycled into low-grade materials or even landfilled.”

Smart AI-driven technology has a key role to play in the future and the Eberhard Group is an early pioneer in heavy-duty C&D sorting robots, adds Juha Mieskonen, Head of Sales from ZenRobotics

“The family business made its first investment into ZenRobotics’ smart autonomous waste sorting robots back in 2015. We are delighted that Eberhard is now multiplying its robot count by reinvesting into our advanced robot waste-sorting system as part of this groundbreaking new plant investment.”

ZenRobotics is the leading supplier of intelligent sorting robots for the waste industry and the first company to apply AI-based robots to a complex waste-sorting environment. The robots are designed to make recycling more efficient, accurate and profitable, with the company’s stated ambition being to make the circular economy a reality by turning global waste into clean raw materials.

The third-generation family-owned Eberhard Group has been active for over 65 years and today employs some 600 staff. In civil engineering and deconstruction, its innovative solutions in technology and processes, coupled with extensive experience in site management, aim to guarantee efficiency and shorter construction periods. When it comes to contaminated sites and disposal, processing technologies can also achieve almost complete recycling of materials.

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