Adelaide's SAGE brings automation to sorting containers at recycling and refund depots

SAGE Automation's smart systems have advanced vision technology that can count up to 350 recycled containers per minute and calculate the refund.
Image courtesy The Lead South Australia

Adelaide-based technology and engineering company SAGE Automation is producing more of its automated smart container deposit systems, as other Australian states follow South Australia’s lead in recycling by introducing a container refund scheme in 1977.

With the University of South Australia, SAGE Automation has developed auto return terminals (ARTs). The terminals allow customers to return deposit cans, plastic bottles and glass for a 10 cents-per-container refund.

The ARTs identify and sort containers with  industrial internet-of-things technology and a vision counting- and-sorting system developed by SAGE. The system’s advanced vision technology counts up to 350 containers per minute without the need for coding or labelling. The containers are counted for a predicted refund sum that customers can view on a TV screen at most depots.

The machines can identify different container types, including unwanted materials. The process takes only a few minutes and a refund receipt is automatically generated. The terminals have proved more than 99% accurate in counting containers. Since Queensland launched its containers-for-change scheme in 2018, a rise from 32,000 to 230,000 containers per day has gone through 16 semi auto return terminals (ARTs) at private recyclers across six sites.

SAGE remotely monitors the machines, including some in rural Queensland, from its operations centre in Adelaide.

Until recently, alternatives to manual counting of containers have been limited to European reverse-style vending machines that only accept containers with intact barcodes, one at a time. South Australia recycling depots, that have counted and sorted containers manually for more than 40 years, could also benefit from the ARTs that reduce operational costs while improving accuracy and customer experience.

*Information from The Lead South Australia

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

ARR (Adelaide Resource Recovery) recycles big slab of demolition and construction material

South Australian recycling pioneer ARR (Adelaide Resource Recovery) met a major demand for “green” building products by buying a 68-tonne mobile concrete crusher. The $2.2 million Nordberg Impact Crusher – Adelaide's largest – turned waste concrete, previously dumped as landfill into recycled rubble” used for the foundations in major infrastructure projects. Recycled rubble is a high-quality alternative to virgin rock quarried from the Adelaide Hills. The rubble was in strong demand for building foundations and well-compacted bases for new roads and bridges. Previously, the company couldn’t supply the high demand from defence work in Port Adelaide and major transport infrastructure. The new crusher increased its crushing capacity four times to 700-800 tonnes an hour. ARR operates a 20-hectare resource recovery plant at Wingfield Waste & Recycling Centre. Hundreds of companies throughout metropolitan Adelaide region bring construction and demolition waste, traditionally buried in landfills, to ARR at Wingfield. It is transformed into products such as concrete pavers, aggregate, sand and bitumen. ARR also has been involved in exports to China of containers of cleaned and baled waste plastic, extracted from the mixed waste stream coming into ARR's Wingfield sorting plant. Some plastics sold for $500 a tonne, a level pushed up by the oil price and companies realising they can make products from recycled plastics. ARR was gold sponsor of “Towards zero waste: Achieving practical solutions” conference at Glenelg for 200 delegates from around Australia.

Three South Australian universities work with industry in areas such as defence, biomedicine

All three major South Australian universities are involved in turning their research into technology. Each has its own commercialisation arm: Adelaide Enterprise at Adelaide University; Flinders Partners at Flinders University; and UniSA Ventures at the University of South Australia. South Australia has a long history of success in defence research, underpinned by strong alliances between universities and industry. These alliances were recognised in 2018 through the Defence Innovation Partnership between Defence SA, Defence Science and Technology, and South Australia’s three universities. It will support research, develop and commercialise defence-relevant science and technology with the universities, industry and the state and federal governments working together, particularly through significant Defence Science and Technology research divisions at Edinburgh Defence Precinct. The three universities also work closely in the biomedical research precinct on the western end of North Terrace, Adelaide. Sited alongside the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Royal Adelaide Hospital, is the University of Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building, supporting about 400 health sciences researchers. University of South Australia’s Health Innovation Building, includes the Centre for Cancer Biology set up within SA Pathology in 2008 as a hub for innovative science. A $280 million SAHMRI2 will be built alongside SAHMRI building to house Australia’s first proton therapy unit. Flinders University has committed $60 million to have a cancer research hub in the building.


Arthur Rogers' skill as instrument maker a key to Bragg's experiments at Adelaide University

Arthur Rogers' superb skill in creating apparatus was critical to William Bragg’s breakthrough alpha particle and gamma ray experiments. Rogers' schooling in England was hampered by disability but he gained jobs working with metal, wood and glass. Migrating to Adelaide in the 1880s to improve his health, he joined Edwin Sawtells' optical and watchmaking business. This may have been where William had apprenticed himself to learn how to make the apparatus for the uni laboratory.

Jordan Walsh's Adelaide green-loop clean and waste management concept goes national

Adelaide Clean Green company, started in 2014, has gone national on the premise of combining sustainable cleaning and waste management. Adelaide’s Jordan Walsh, who started the business at age 24, soon achieved a 2016 Telstra South Australian Business of the Year award. Walsh had completed a law degree and balanced his day job with cleaning work he’d started as a teenager. His business was born with the difference of avoiding chemicals in its cleaning products. Next step was to offer a green-loop waste management for events, with bigger clients including the six campuses of the University of South Australia, Adelaide showgrounds and WOMAdelaide Festival. Adelaide Clean Green overcame resistance to having an extra green organics bin at events by supplying compostable plates that could go into the bin with leftover food. This has been most successful at WOMADelaide in Botanic Park where 98% of waste was diverted from landfill. Using 100% compostable cubs, plates, crockery and serviettes, collected waste was converted to organic mulch by Jeffries, with 16 tonnes delivered back to Adelaide Botanic gardens. From around 80 staff in 2015, Adelaide Clean Green with Adam’s Cleaning and 200 more staff came on board. Going national with sustainable waste management, Adelaide Clean Green has extended its involvement to events including Parrtjima: A Festival of Light in Alice Springs and Polo in the City, in five Australian cities. It continues its local high profile at Santos Tour Down Under cycling and RCC Fringe during the Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Botanic High School to lead focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths)

The $100 million Adelaide Botanic High School, on Frome Street, city, opening in 2019, will have students work with teachers and industry mentors to encourage their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Adelaide Botanic High will be a flagship for a state-wide STEM program involving 139 primary and secondary schools and 75,000 students. Half a billion dollars were allocated in the 2016-17 state budget to modernise STEM learning areas in public and non-government schools to give students the opportunity to claim jobs in advanced manufacturing and defence: particularly the frigate and submarine projects in Adelaide from 2022. 

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback