Analysis of top 10 beach litterers

Perception of the month - April 2020

#PoM – Stop littering and save the ocean!

Approximately 8 million metric tonnes of plastic waste enter the Earth’s ocean every year.1 Since most of the plastic is non-biodegradable, recycling must be a part of global efforts to reduce plastic pollution. Mankind needs to stop polluting and the rate of recycling needs to be increased to ease the situation. 

The top 10 collected items in an international coastal clean-up

An ideal use case of our Perception Park Software is the recycling industry. The following example shows the great potential of the Chemical Colour Imaging technology to properly recover various plastics in a single step.

In our perception of this month, we have a look at the top 10 items collected in the yearly international coastal clean-up of Ocean Conservancy.2

These pollutants are Cigarette Butts, Food Wrappers, Straws and Stirrers, Plastic Forks, Knives and Spoons, Plastic Beverage Bottles, Plastic Bottle Caps, Plastic Grocery Bags, Other Plastic Bags, Plastic Lids, and Plastic Cups & Plates.

We show you how we can automatically differentiate the littering items through HSI (hyperspectral imaging) technology. The percentage of plastic that can be fully recycled, rather than downcycled, can be increased when manufacturers of for example packaged goods minimize the mixing of packaging materials and eliminate contaminants.3

Increased recycling to impact the environment

The recycling industry relies on fast and accurate classification of plastics. We use the near-infrared range of 900 – 1700 nm to detect Polypropylene, Polyethylene Terephthalate, Polyethylene and differentiate them from contaminants. In this analysis, we see that not all plastics are the same.

The spectra and the Chemical Colour Image (CCI) suggests that the material of the grocery bag and the other bag are strongly related to the PE bottle cap. This is hardly surprising as plastic bags are mostly made of low-density PE (LDPE).  With Hyperspectral Imaging we can differentiate even the most similar looking materials. The spectra image shows that the spoon is made of PP. The food wrapper and the cigarette are made of "something" else. With the Perception Studio Software and the Specim FX17 camera we accurately classified the 10 items collected in the yearly international coastal clean-up.

Measurement Setup





Food Wrapper

Straws (Polypropylene, PP)

Plastic Spoon

Drinking Bottle (Polyethylene Terephthalate, PET)

Bottle Cap (Polyethylene, PE)

Grocery Bag

Other Bag

Plastic Lid (Polypropylene, PP)

Plastic Cup (Polypropylene, PP)


Specim FX17 Cameralink (spectral range 900 - 1700 nm)

Holder for


Inno-Spec stepper table



Perception Studio




Industrial software application for recycling and waste processing

Perception Park has developed an intuitive software to analyze hyperspectral data cubes from any Hyperspectral-camera on the market. The easy-to-use software allows the differentiation of Hundreds of materials. The use of hyperspectral image processing systems enables the solution of applications where conventional image processing technologies often fail. With this technology visually similar materials can be differentiated based on their chemical composition. Furthermore, the concentration and distribution of ingredients in, for example, food or pharmaceutical products can be monitored accurately and in real-time.

Let us make a difference now

Every one of us can make a difference and stop littering the planet. As now the damage is already done, and a new mindset will take time to have an effect that can be measured, we can at least help to make recycling more efficient and profitable. An increase in the recycling rate can help to improve the situation and establish a circular economy.

More information about the ocean pollution problem can be found here:

1 Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean

Clean Up Report

3The APR Design® Guide for Plastics Recyclability

JRC - Technical Report - European Commission


Our perception of the month blog posts showcase the newest developments, market solutions, interesting applications and fun facts in hyperspectral imaging. In this monthly format, we discover the hyperspectral world with you.  Every month we showcase real-life problems, innovative ideas, and interesting experiments to share and solve with our community. If you also have an idea for a perception of the month, write to us and we will investigate it for you.