Campus News

Say hello to Oscar Sort, UK Recycling’s new AI-powered, waste-sorting system

The Wildcat with Oscar Sort
Photo provided by UK Recycling.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 20, 2023) — University of Kentucky Recycling has a new “helping hand” on campus. Oscar Sort, an artificial intelligence waste-sorting system from Intuitive AI, has been installed on campus to empower better recycling decisions and divert waste from landfills.

Oscar automatically identifies recyclables from waste, by using AI technology to understand the item that a person is trying to dispose of, and instructs users on which waste bins to put them in. For example, if a person is trying to dispose of a plastic cup with a straw, it will instruct the user to recycle the cup, but place the straw in the landfill container. 

Oscar is always updated with the new items now recyclable at UK, through the mixed recyclable stream.

“Oscar is more than a sorting assistant: it’s a fun, interactive resource for students, faculty and staff to receive instant feedback about UK’s mixed recycling stream,” said UK’s Recycling/Waste Reduction Specialist Senior Ryan Lark. “Education will be a vital part in helping UK reach its goal of becoming a zero-waste campus by 2030, and we’re excited to add Oscar to our roster of educational resources.”

Oscar will provide data to the UK Recycling program on the behavior of the participants that be used to measure changes in recycling practices on campus. UK Recycling plans to use it to provide incentives/rewards to participants to those that recycle properly.

“Oscar knows hundreds of classes of waste items and each class has 15-20 subclasses. Like a new employee, they have a good foundation but need to learn the ins and outs of their new environment,” Hassan Murad, CEO and co-founder of Intuitive AI. “The best way to learn is by working and for Oscar that means waste! The more waste Oscar sees across the University of Kentucky the faster and better accuracy will become over time."

Look for Oscars at the Gatton Student Center, at the bottom of the social stairs, and at The 90, close to the entrance to Fresh Food Company.

“We’re excited to begin this partnership with University of Kentucky and transform those three seconds at the bin,” said Murad. “The Oscar Sort is the first pillar to their journey in transparent, future proof and interactive waste management.

Learn more about Intuitive AI’s Oscar Sort here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.