“Hybrid Human-Robot Recycling plant for electrical and electronic equipment”

The overall goal of HR-Recycler is to create a hybrid collaboration environment, where humans and robots will harmoniously share and undertake at the same time different processing and manipulation tasks, targeting the industrial application case of WEEE recycling.

Leaded by CERTH (The Centre for Research and Technology-Hellas, located in Thessaloniki, Greece), the HR-Recycler project has 12 partners and has received a Grant of circa 7 million Euros from the European Commission under the Programme H2020- Technologies for Factories of the Future, on the specific topic Effective Industrial Human-Robot Collaboration (RIA).

Project started in December 2018 and will end in November 2022 (after a 6 months extension due to Covid affectation in 2020).



The technological advances that have been achieved over the past decades have led to a tremendous increase of both the types and the total amount of electrical and electronic equipment that is manufactured. Despite the importance of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) management, the issue of the WEEE recycling has not received that increased industrial attention.


Some impacting figures about WEEE:

44Mt Global quantity of e-waste that is generated on an annual basis

55B Euros Total value of all raw materials present in e-waste in 2016

20% Globally, percentage of e-waste documented to be collected and recycled


HR-Recycler targets the development of a ‘hybrid human-robot recycling plant for WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) operating in an indoor environment. The fundamental aim of the system (and its great innovation potential)is to replace multiple currently manual, expensive, hazardous and time-consuming tasks of WEEE materials pre-processing with correspondingly automatic robotic-based procedures (categorization of electric/electronic devices, disassembling them, sorting of device components), before the materials are eventually provided as input to a fine shredding machine and conventional material separation steps are applied (using air/water flows, oscillating movements, magnets, etc.).

Project will focus on 4 use cases:

Emergency lamps

MW ovens


PC towers

The primary output of the envisaged system will be to extract sorted electric/electronic device components [e.g. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), Cu coils, capacitors, etc.] and concentrated fractions (e.g. copper, aluminium, plastics, etc.) of increased economic and environmental value; hence, contributing to the fundamental goal of the ‘European circular economy’ project and boosting economic activity in secondary markets.

Additionally, mixed fractions (i.e. fractions with low concentration in valuable materials) will be collected, in order to be sent to other facilities for further dedicated recycling process.



As an AI and computer vision company, the role of Sadako in the HR-Recycler project is to provide the crucial vision algorithms to the robotic systems, allowing the perception of the environment in which the machines evolve, in 2 main aspects: object recognition, and human pose and gesture recognition.

Because of the wide variety of vision-dependent systems being employed in this project (different types of robot arms and Automatically Guided Vehicles, central factory planner), many different challenges are encountered which need each their own specific solution. All of the solutions rely on the use of RGB-D cameras and computers capable of Neural Network inference and are a good illustration of the many capabilities and applications of computer vision.


This project is the first step of Sadako Technologies into the E-Waste industry, one of the most challenging, growing and valuable waste streams in today’s World, heavy consumer of electrical and electronic devices. It represents a new opportunity for the company to expand the impact of its technology in the waste and recycling industry.


More info at:



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement n°820742.