US-based packaging company Sonoco has partnered with technology start-up AMP Robotics to make spiral wound paper canisters with steel bottoms more widely recyclable.

AMP Robotics aims to modernise recycling infrastructure by using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

The partners will develop a material category within AMP’s neural network to identify and sort paper cans with steel bottoms, which are manufactured by Sonoco and other companies.

Sonoco sustainability staff vice-president Elizabeth Rhue said: “Sonoco is uniquely positioned as a leading recycler to help deliver end-of-life solutions across our consumer and industrial packaging platforms.

“This partnership represents another step forward in our growing portfolio of sustainable packaging solutions.”

AMP’s AI platform, AMP Neuron, has one of the largest known real-world datasets of recyclable materials for machine learning.

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The company can classify more than 100 different categories and characteristics of recyclables across single-stream recycling, ‘e-scrap’ and construction and demolition debris.

AMP Robotics founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz said: “Our AI is unique in its strength, precision and flexibility to learn new packaging to the specificity of a manufacturer or brand, and Sonoco was early to recognise the implications of AI in the sorting process.

“Recyclers across the world with AMP Cortex gain this sorting capability, as they have many others.

“And because our AI is continuously learning, we’ll only improve the recovery of this and other materials over time.”

The environmental impact of using recycled steel is claimed to be 45% lower than that of manufacturing the same amount from virgin material.

In addition, recycling paper containers with steel bottoms through the steel stream or other streams has a 40% smaller environmental impact than landfilling.

In July, Sonoco Protective Solutions revealed plans to introduce its recyclable Sonopost packaging technology in Europe, adding the technology to its facility in Sochaczew, Poland.