With the current curb side recycling system your used materials are at best recycled once into low-grade applications or at worst incinerated, landfilled or shipped en mass overseas. The ReCircle is a domestic recycling appliance that aims to change this by taking the same used recyclable materials and processing them into high quality materials suitable for closed-loop recycling (that is recycling an item to a high enough quality so it can be used to make new items of the same or similar value as the original).
To develop an appliance to do this in your home is a complex process which requires hundreds of different components, but the process the materials need to go through to achieve this goal can be broken down into four core modules: sensing, washing, granulating and storage. The technology needed for each of these modules already exists in mainstream industry.
Sensing: Using a combination of sensors, both the type and colour of material being recycled can be detected. These types of sensors are already employed for material identification in both the recycling industry and small hand held devices. The ReCircle will use this technology not only to detect the type and colour of material, but also to identify if the cap or neck ring is still present and needs removing. The accurate sorting by material type and colour along with the removal of dissimilar materials ensures the materials being processed by the ReCircle are as pure as possible.
Washing: The items being recycled need to be thoroughly cleaned of any food residue, labels and adhesives. To do this the ReCircle wash system will be similar to your domestic dishwasher crossed with a power washer. High pressure nozzles will strategically direct warm water with an ecologically friendly abrasive, similar to those found in some dishwasher tablets, to remove all debris from the materials being recycled. The used water then passes through a series of filters to capture the debris, allowing the water to be recirculated.
Granulation: Once sorted and cleaned the materials need to be broken down into a more compact format for storage, transportation and recycling. In industry this is currently done with very large units that break down materials into industry standard sized pieces ideal for recycling. As these machines only exist on an industrial scale ReCircle has engaged a senior Engineer formerly from a world-leading manufacturer of these systems to develop a compact version to fit within the ReCircle appliance.
Storage: After processing to the ideal format for recycling, the materials need to be stored in segregated areas to prevent them being contaminated by dissimilar materials. Once full, the storage unit will be detached from the main appliance and wheeled curb side ready for collection.
All the technology for these modules already exists within industry, some of it has already been miniaturised and is ready to transfer into the ReCircle. Where it only exists on an industrial scale, ReCircle is collaborating with experts in that particular field to move the technology from an industrial to a domestic application.
At present just 2% of packaging is recycled into a material of the same quality, and 38% leaks into the environment. ReCircle’s patented closed-loop recycling system turns the current recycling model on its head so that the true value of our used-materials can be realised.
This Monday 15 April 2019 we will be launching an equity crowdfunding round through Crowdcube, raising funds to develop the ReCircle prototype.
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