WHAT IS A LASSO?
Unlike your current curb-side recycling bin, which jumbles bottles, tins, plastics and paper together, Lasso produces recycled materials of a far higher quality than its industrial cousins. Used glass, plastic and metals can then be manufactured into goods of the same or similar value. This is closed-loop recycling.
See these resources for more info on closed-loop recycling and the circular economy:
- WRAP UK: WRAP and the circular economy
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation: What is a circular economy?
- Lasso Loop Recycling: Circular Economy White Paper
Installation in Five Easy Steps
- Get your plumber to install the Lasso with the same connections as a dishwasher
- Download the Lasso App and set up your account
- Link the appliance via to an internet connection and confirm its location via the user interface
- The Lasso collection vehicle now knows where to pick up the recycled materials
- You’re ready to start processing recyclables
Loading the Lasso is as simple as loading a dishwasher:
- Open the door, pull out the recyclables tray
- Remove lids, caps, neck rings, tamper rings using the built-in device
- Load plastic material, glass colours and metals into their respective material dedicated bays – PET into PET bay, green glass into green glass bay … etc, etc.
- Incorrectly loaded materials will produce a visible and audible warning
- Correct any incorrectly loaded material to remove the audible warning
- Close the recyclables tray
- Add a small amount of detergent
- Close the door
- Press Start
The smart machine
In Step 3 above, using miniaturised sensors and recognition software, the Lasso detects the specific material type of each item placed into a material dedicated bay, and where required its colour, and also whether neck rings, lids or plastic films have been left in place.
The sensor analysis process only takes some seconds and in the case of a container or material being incorrectly loaded, the audible error sound and viewable error message will be delivered within a few seconds of loading a container into a bay. Corrective action needs to be taken to remove the error. If no corrective action is taken, the unit will not start processing.
If your region uses a bottle-deposit system, the sensors will also scan barcodes and credit any refund to your account.
The smart process
First the Lasso starts the wash cycle, using high-pressure spray heads to clean any food residue, labels and adhesives from the recyclables with a minimal amount of water.
The water is then passed through filters to remove all the debris, ensuring optimum cleaning of the recyclables before processing starts.
After a drying process, the recyclables are then directed in turn to the processing units.
These are miniaturised granulators specifically developed to process each material group to the optimum industry specifications.
The processed material passes from the granulators into the product storage container (PSC) where they are segregated according to material type and colour and securely stored to prevent contamination.
The Lasso prototype has storage sections for seven different materials: 3 for different colours of glass; 2 for metals; and 2 for different types of plastic. More categories can be added in the future.
Emptying the Lasso
Based on standard household consumption rates, the PSC will require emptying approximately once every two months.
When one section in the PSC is full you will be notified either via the user interface or via the app.
You then have the option of either emptying the PSC or continuing to process other materials to fill up the other sections.
To prevent overfilling the Lasso will now reject materials that would need to be stored in the section of the PSC that is already at capacity.
Each area of the product storage container has a different volume. We have researched household consumption rates to ensure that, as far as possible, during normal use all the areas will reach capacity at a similar time.
When the PSC needs to be emptied, you don’t have to wait for a specific collection day. Simply book a collection through the appliance or app. This can either be the next available pickup or you can book a specific time and date.
The app links to the GPS of the collection vehicle, providing a countdown timer that becomes more accurate the closer it gets to the collection time.
When it’s time for your collection, clip the ergonomic trolley supplied with the Lasso to the PSC and wheel it to the curb-side. The app notifies you when the recyclables have been collected.
The PSC can be then be wheeled back to the main appliance to be slotted back into place ready to process more recyclables. There is no fee for this collection.
Why is Lasso better than the current system?
The current curb-side collection of mixed-stream recycling is not working. Less than 50% of the recycling collected is actually being recycled. An even smaller percentage is remanufactured into products of similar value:
- Plastic from a curbside mixed collection is more likely to be sent to landfill or incinerated under the guise of energy recovery.
- Recyclable glass from a curbside mixed collection is more likely to be used to replace dirt as a daily covering layer in landfill (did you ever wonder why there is so much crushed glass on the roads in recovery centres?).
The earlier and more effectively different materials can be separated and kept clean, the more chance the recyclables have of being reused. Bottle banks have a higher recycling rate than the mixed curb-side bin because the items are separated by material type and colour which helps reduce, but not eliminate, contamination of the waste stream.
The Lasso takes this much further by separating materials at point of use. They are cleaned, processed and securely stored to retain their optimum form with no contamination that can feed back into the manufacturing of new products. Then they can be recycled back into products of the same or similar value, glass containers back to glass containers, plastic bottles back to plastic bottles, aluminium cans back to aluminium cans. This is the closed-loop system. It reduces emissions, maintains the value of valuable materials, and saves resources.
And most importantly, does it work?
We believe that it will. We have the experience and the technical know-how to build the appliance. Similar sensors are already in use in the recycling industry, but they are much larger than the ones we have designed for the domestic Lasso.
The seven categories of materials are currently saleable and likely to remain so. Our logistical projections are based on careful analysis of average household usage. The prototype will be viable if it is rolled out in inner city areas with a high standard of education and commitment to the environment.
Our financial projections are based on careful analysis of the current value of closed-loop recyclables. With increasing concern about waste in our society, this value can only rise.
For those who want more convincing about the technological, logistical and financial underpinnings of this project – watch this space.