Plastic and the heap of waste coming from it has become one of the world's biggest bane and to lessen the impact in some capacity, a group of researchers from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have devised an affordably priced answer to the menace of sorting out plastic waste.
The researchers have been able to be atleast 97 percent accurate in identification of the kind of plastic waste.
The research group, comprising of doctoral scholar Rajendhar Junjuri and associate professor Dr G Manoj Kumar, made use of a laser-based technique known as Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) to get data from all kinds of plastics.
The team took plastic waste samples from a sorting unit in Telangana’s Nirmal district to help understand the conditions of real-time application. They then used the data generated by LIBS with machine learning to identify the various kinds of plastic. Speaking to Indian Express, the researching duo reportedly are confident enough of using their work to help identify the different kind of waste and thus in the future help receycle waste effectively and wihtout more damage to the world.
Kumar reportedly said that for the ever increasing problem of plastic waste, recycling is one of the most primary solutions. But equally important is the difficult process of identifying the type of plastic for the recycling to work.
“There are so many things made of plastic. Not everyone follows the display of its recycling number. Several items are made of a mixture, too. In our method, when we shine a laser at the waste material, it can tell us what kind of plastic it is,” he was quoted as saying.
The researchers also caution against any mistake in identifying the plastic which might result in a degraded quality of the recycled product. So in relation to that, the method found by the UoH researchers helps to achieve almost 97 percent of accuracy, thus lessening the risk of wrongful identification of the waste plastic.
The correct use of the method will be beneficial for all, including a manufacturer of recycled products who can then correctly choose his raw material to further go on with the recycled product. Also, for a recycler, it will bring down costs.
The duo's research paper titled ‘Low-Cost Sorting of Plastic Waste’ was in Optics & Photonics News (OPN) year review 2020, published by Optical Society of America (OSA).