Vestforbrænding (“West Incineration”) in Glostrup, near Copenhagen, treats waste from 19 municipalities and provides service to one of six residents of Denmark with waste treatment solutions. Currently, around 25.000 tonnes of bulky waste is incinerated without further processing, but according to studies by Vestforbrænding, as much as half of this waste could be recycled.
The company, therefore, will establish a new, ground-breaking robotic sorting plant in the city of Frederikssund near Copenhagen. The project has been selected as a flagship project for the environmental solutions of the future and has been awarded 12.8M DKK in funding from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s MUDP-pool. The flagship project and the knowledge gained in robotic sorting of recyclable resources is to benefit the entire industry and thus all of Denmark.
“There is a huge potential in using robots to sort waste even better than we do today. It will not only benefit the environment but also create jobs and ensure economically sound handling of the resources within the waste we currently receive,”
Says Yvonne Amskov, who is the Development Manager of Vestforbrænding. She points out that the project also helps profiling Denmark as a forerunner of circular solutions, and as a leading country within environmental-technological solutions. Lastly, it will also contribute to Denmark meeting the EU targets for the circular economy.
Robotics experts are necessary
With its many years of experience in the bulky waste market, Vestforbrænding is capable of independently developing and testing new technologies. However, the project was unlikely to ever have seen the light of day if not for the contributions of several significant partners.
“We have from Vestforbrænding contributed with all our competences within collection, treatment, and deposition. That we have made it all the way and now stand with a flagship project, which will be the measuring stick for the environmental solutions of the future – and for future MUDP-funding – is largely due to a good partnership with experts in robotics technology,” states Yvonne Amskov.
Mikkel Viager is a partner in the independent consulting company, Gain & Co, and has served as an external consultant for the project. One of his specialties is waste sorting, and among others, his earlier role as a technical project leader at InnoSort under the research company Technological Institute has given him strong experience with robots for waste sorting.
Waste robots are notably different from robots used in production companies. There, you work with well-known products within set tolerance limits, whereas a robot in waste sorting must be able to sort anything.
“The robots must be able to recognize and sort anything that we as consumers could throw away. This is a complicated task. As an example, a piece of wood is not just a piece of wood but can take differing shapes depending on what it has been used for, and how it has been deformed during collection. It must be recognized and sorted regardless of how it appears, and this is what makes the selection and purchase of a robot for waste sorting difficult,” tells Mikkel Viager.
Yvonne Amskov emphasizes the practical and directly applicable approach, that Cain & Co has towards robotics technology.
“We don’t need meter long reports and accounts but want continuous verbal sparring so we can make the correct choices and easily can adjust if new knowledge is gained. Here, Gain & Co has been able to prepare the project group and give the necessary sparring,” says Yvonne Amskov and states that Vestforbrænding now has the necessary knowledge to make a qualified call for tenders and select the correct robot for the new plant.
The new robotics plant will be placed in Frederikssund and will receive bulky waste from the owning municipalities of Vestforbrænding. Starting around autumn 2019, the robotics plant will begin sorting recyclable resources from the bulky waste, before the rest is used to generate power in the incineration plant.
Further information about the project can be found on the website of Vestfprbrænding.