When Randy’s Environmental Services needed to find a solution to extract plastic bags from the MSW stream, they turned to Waste Robotics’ automated solution.

Randy’s environmental Services, now Republic, has been innovating for over a decade with its organic bags co-collection program that allows for inexpensive and effective collection of source-separated organic waste. Located in Delano, MN, Randy’s Environmental Services provides responsive and dependable waste management and recycling services to residents, businesses, contractors and municipalities throughout the greater Minneapolis metro area and surrounding counties. The challenge that Randy’s Environmental Services faced was that it needed human pickers to extract the bags from the MSW stream when it entered their transfer station in Delano. The bag extraction was inhuman and difficult to fulfill since it exposed people to dull, dirty and dangerous work.

Randy’s Environmental Service sorting center overview showing trash bags and Waste
Robotics installation.
Photos courtesy of Waste Robotics.

Finding a Solution
Randy’s Environmental Services began to look for an automated solution to the bag extraction problem. They wanted to avoid having to sort the bags manually and expose workers to harsh conditions. In their search for solutions, they found Waste Robotics®, which offered intelligent robotic systems and whose first product dealt with the extraction of bags in a random garbage stream. A first meeting with Éric Camirand, CEO of Waste Robotics, took place at Waste Expo in 2017 to discuss the value proposition of the system and resulted in a quick decision to install it.

Waste Robotics integrates advanced waste handling processes. Computer vision, deep learning algorithms and advanced robotic technologies enable smaller, more accurate, safer and more cost-effective waste recycling facilities. “By sorting waste materials using robots, our mission is to provide autonomous systems that no longer require humans to sort waste. We use existing technologies that we integrate through software to allow cameras and robots to do this work,” says Camirand.

Improving Efficiency
Waste Robotics provided Randy’s Environmental Services a tailored solution by designing a fully automated robotic sorting line that allowed for robotic extraction of the organic bags. The system is composed of an in-feed conveyor, a sorting conveyor, a platform and one gantry style robot system equipped with artificial intelligence vision. Installed in December 2017, the robotic sorting line has been extracting organic bags since then, and the line can process up to 15 tons per hour and extract 1,800 bags per hour of up to 20 lbs. each. This resulted in an improved efficiency of extraction in the transfer station, a reduction of labor cost, more than $150,000 per year in cost savings, and significant GHG reduction from a robotic co-collection and sorting system.


Waste Robotics gantry robot sorting bags of trash.

In addition, Camirand says not only has the staff been reduced by three people, but the company also has the ability to scale to longer hours, and there is a 20 percent improved capture rate over human pickers. The investment has paid for itself in four years. “We are thrilled to work with a leading-edge company such as Waste Robotics to offer our clients a truly competitive and economical solution for organics diversion,” says Jim Wollschlager, CEO of Randy’s Environmental Services.

Tailor-Made Solutions
Since the installation, the entire Waste Robotics team is helping to make robotic sorting more efficient every day. In addition to the extraction of garbage bags from household waste by intelligent robotic systems, Waste Robotics now offers tailor-made solutions to efficiently sort construction and demolition debris, recyclables and any valuable materials in waste streams. | WA

For more information, contact Eric Camirand, Founder and CEO of Waste Robotics®, at [email protected].