Challenge number 4: Improve our recycling capabilities (CLOSE THE LOOP)

Even if everything must be done to delay this deadline[1], there comes a time when a product is legitimately at the end of its life and, having lost all functionality, its residual value is that of the materials that form it. This is where recycling comes in, i.e. the technical operation of separating and preparing these materials for a new cycle.

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 very telling analogy of recycling is the clay game. If we are not careful, our materials mix into a ball of infamous colour and there is no future. If we are meticulous it is possible to separate the basic colours and bring new products back to life. It is also necessary that the recycled materials find a buyer and that they are ready to put a price that covers the cost of recycling. The reality today is that all this is only possible thanks to sustained subsidization because there is still too much mistrust of the performance of recycled raw materials or the price of primary metals is far too low!

Innovation, in particular intelligent sorting using robotics and artificial intelligence techniques[2], offers interesting prospects for improving recycling performance, but it is important to always keep in mind that the most efficient recycling process rarely exceeds 95%. In other words, after 15 cycles, only half of the initial resource may remain, the rest being dissipated in final waste!

1] In practice, all forms of single use, whether plastic, aluminium or even paper, should be banned.

2] ULiège has developed a prototype sorting robot (Pick It) ready to be deployed on an industrial scale.

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