CMI funds another sorting robot to save 1,400 aluminum cans each day at Caglia Environmental MRF
In September 2023, the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) initiated a project to fund an EverestLabs robot at Caglia Environmental's recycling facility in California. This program is the latest in a several-year effort by CMI to capture revenue generated through capturing misorted used beverage cans (UBCs).
CMI's research highlighted that up to one in four aluminum beverage cans is missorted at a typical material recovery facility (MRF). This loss of cans results in substantial revenue loss for MRFs. Further, when CMI analyzed UBC sortation at five loss points across three diverse MRFs, on average the UBCs lost at each loss point was between 7 to 36 UBCs per minute, which is equivalent to an average annual revenue loss of $71,940. The need to capture these valuable recyclables prompted CMI to explore solutions that could be easily retrofitted into existing sorting facilities.
CMI utilized a financing model to fund a robot at Caglia Environmental, an MRF in central California. They secured funding from Ardagh Metal Packaging and Crown Holdings to finance the two-year equipment lease for Caglia fully. In return, Caglia agreed to share 50 percent of the revenue generated from the UBCs collected by the leased robot. The relatively high value of UBCs and EverestLabs' model made this program possible.
CMI and Caglia partnered with EverestLabs to deploy the robot on Caglia's last chance line. EverestLabs' robot is equipped with AI and a 3D depth-sensing camera and is tasked with sorting single-stream recyclables, primarily targeting UBCs.
The EverestLabs robot was selected for various reasons including:
- EverestLabs AI and robotics can be deployed within a few hours with no downtime or retrofits.
- Tracking of robotic performance with 24/7 monitoring.
- Dependable solution.
- Minute-by-minute data on what types of materials are coming across lines.
A key reason this leasing model is successful is that EverestLabs provides robotics performance analytics to Caglia and CMI, giving them a daily view of the value recovered and data on the UBCs and containers that were missed. This data provides them with information on how the lease payback is going.
The deployment of EverestLabs' robot at Caglia's facility is yielding impressive results. Since August, the EverestLabs robot has been recovering an average of 1,565 UBCs per day. This saves an average of 671.4 kilowatt-hours each day, which is equivalent to the energy needed to power a U.S. home for 618 hours. This not only reduces waste sent to landfills but also generates revenue for both Caglia and CMI. Additionally, it reduces carbon emissions considering making recycled aluminum is 94 percent less carbon intensive than making primary aluminum.
When there are no UBCs present to pick, EverestLabs can prioritize picking missed containers, further increasing material recovery.
CMI plans to use the learnings from this initiative to support additional UBC capture equipment at MRFs. CMI and EverestLabs are now looking to expand their partnership and are exploring another robotic system placement in a different MRF.