This recycling robot at YVR Airport uses artificial intelligence to sort your recyclables

May 7 2019, 2:51 am

Are coffee cups recyclable? Can this paper packaging go into the recycle bin? Where should this bubble wrap go?

A robot at YVR can now answer these questions for you.

Most people try their best to recycle and it can often be a confusing process, which is why Vancouver International Airport recently introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) sensor that oversees a cluster of smart waste bins at a central location within the terminal building.

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This AI, called Oscar, has an artificial intelligence powered camera that automatically identifies recycling from trash and instructs users on whether it belongs in the compost bin, paper bin, or landfill stream bin. Oscar can differentiate between items that are partly obscuring one another and prioritize which ones to instruct users about first.


Vancouver Airport Authority

“At YVR, we strive to be a leader in environmental management,” said Shaye Folk-Blagbrough, Senior Environmental Specialist for Vancouver Airport Authority, in a statement. “Understanding that our passengers come from around the world with different waste sorting systems, one of the challenges we face is ensuring waste is correctly sorted at waste bins located throughout the terminal. As such, we’re constantly looking at creative approaches to waste management.

“We’re thrilled to work with Intuitive AI and welcome Oscar to YVR. In a short amount of time, we’ve seen the positive impact Oscar has had on our waste diversion program at YVR. Aiding our passengers with waste sorting through artificial intelligence is an innovative way of improving the airport’s environmental footprint through technology.”

The technology was developed by Vancouver-based Intuitive AI, and with its pilot rollout YVR is now the first airport in the world to leverage this technology with three smart bins.

“At Intuitive AI, our vision is to empower a zero waste world and we’re starting right at the source with Oscar,” said Hassan Murad, CEO of Intuitive AI. “We couldn’t think of a more innovative place than YVR. The airport has provided Oscar with an opportunity to constantly improve itself and nudge hundreds of travellers into diverting waste away from landfills every single day.”


Vancouver Airport Authority

Oscar and the smart waste bins are located in the Link Building of the terminal — between the international and domestic areas, at the bottom of the escalators to the Canada Line’s YVR Airport Station’s main footbridge.

According to YVR, multi-stream recycling stations are already available throughout the terminal. Last year, the airport recycled and composted 2.4 of 4.8 million kg of domestic and international terminal building waste, resulting in a 51% diversion rate — 1% over the 2020 target for the third consecutive year.

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Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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