One of the things that makes me proud to work for Microsoft has been how aware the company is about the company footprint on this blue marble, aka the third rock from the Sun. Just recently the three containers in my office became two and we can mix the recyclables in one container. There has been some discussion about the efficacy of mixing recyclables and whether there is some waste in the process.
So when one of our engineers pointed to an article titled "The Truth about Recycling" where this specific aspect of managing the increasingly larger amounts of waste is discussed, I thought I'd share it with you, our gentle reader.
"TiTech's systems--more than 1,000 of which are now installed worldwide--rely on spectroscopy to identify different materials. Paper and plastic items are spread out on a conveyor belt in a single layer. When illuminated by a halogen lamp, each type of material reflects a unique combination of wavelengths in the infra-red spectrum that can be identified, much like a fingerprint. By analysing data from a sensor that detects light in both the visible and the near-infra-red spectrum, a computer is able to determine the colour, type, shape and position of each item. Air jets are then activated to push particular items from one conveyor belt to another, or into a bin. Numerous types of paper, plastic or combinations thereof can thus be sorted with up to 98% accuracy."
So no more splitting up our trash after lunch and such. It's all goodness if you ask me.