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AI to help sort recyclables in Central Okanagan

Pilot program uses video camera and AI software to identify contaminants in real-time

The Regional District Central Okanagan (RDCO) is turning to AI in an effort to clean up recycling contamination in curbside blue bins.

A pilot program will use a video camera, running AI software, in the hopper of a recycling collection truck to identify contaminants in real-time.

It then puts the offending item(s) on a postcard which is mailed to the residence associated with the recycling bin.

“An excellent way for us to track progress, and to track areas that we need to pay more attention to,” Travis Kendel, engineering services manager, told the RDCO board at its July 6 meeting.

READ MORE: Contaminated recycling costing Central Okanagan communities cash

He noted the data can be linked to geographic information systems and identify contamination hot spots.

“Then our boots on the ground Waste Ambassadors can go out there, inspect those carts, provide education, talk with the residents and help get that performance increase.”

The new system will allow the same number of cart checks in one month that are typically done in one year.

Kendel also told the board that residents with the Recycle Coach app will receive a ping on their mobile devices if contaminants are found in their recycling bin.

“We’re really excited about this AI initiative because it’s going to give real-time feedback,” he added.

Recycle BC has matched the RDCO’s investment of $33,000 for the pilot which goes online this year.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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