Plastic Scanner

Developing a device that can Identify the most common types of plastic

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Hi all✌️

We are working on the Plastic Scanner project, a device that can identify the most common types of plastic, making plastic recycling simpler!
Around the world, there there is a lot of plastic, and I think we all agree that we should try and limit the amount of plastic we use, find new ways to reuse plastic, and recycle more plastic.
In many places around the world, plastic is sorted by hand, the sorter needs to find the little triangle on the product (RIS code) or needs to make an assumption about the type of plastic. Factories in west Europe use Infrared light to identify types of plastic, sadly these machines are complex and expensive, and inaccessible to recyclers in low and middle income countries.
what the project aims to solve
Our goal is to make this technology accessible, cheaper, and fully open source!
Read more of our plan here:
GPL 3.0 License

This project is still very much in the prototyping stage, we are looking for people who can help out, mostly hands-on in Delft NL, but in the coming months, there will also be tasks/subprojects that can be done with remote help, for that we are now building infrastructure.

But feel free to read the Docs, and our GitHub, and join our Discord server if you want to become a developer!

Hardware, for the latest version check:

x-zip-compressed - 17.89 MB - 10/22/2022 at 13:13


Software, for the latest version check:

x-zip-compressed - 28.07 kB - 10/22/2022 at 13:12


Firmware, for the latest version check:

x-zip-compressed - 20.06 kB - 10/22/2022 at 13:12


  • 1 × All components can be found at: To keep a central, up-to-date overview

  • Endeavor update

    Jerzeek02/28/2023 at 13:43 0 comments

    By now, you all know what the Plastic Scanner project is about. But what truly makes this project exceptional is the community that has formed around it.

    As mentioned in the latest update video, the Plastic Scanner team has been working on a series of endeavors, which are specific projects that people can work on for a short period of time. And the best part? It's actually working! The community has really taken on these endeavors, with people like Peter analyzing the optimal distance between the sensor and the sample, and Queena, who just started as an intern and is already taking on all of the endeavors with spectroscopy.

    Moreover, Hendrick and Avi have joined the project and are working on the data side, exploring ways of doing machine learning to improve the Plastic Scanner's capabilities. And I have been personally working on overhauling the PS plot software, It works, but there is a lot or room for improvement, so even this now has its own endeavor, for those who know more about python and QT to help speed up the process.

    But perhaps the most impressive endeavor of all is the work of Marcus and Gustav, who have been working on the Plastic Scanner project for the last six months, doing their master's thesis on the product realization of the Plastic Scanner. They just handed in their 120-page long thesis, which contains a wealth of useful resources on how to get the Plastic Scanner production ready. Their work covers everything from injection molding to water tightness to PCB layout and how it is mounted in the product itself.

    All of these different people coming together and working on various endeavors make the Plastic Scanner project a true community affair. It's amazing to see so many individuals contributing their skills and knowledge to make the project a reality. And this is just the beginning!

    So if you're interested in joining the Plastic Scanner project and contributing your skills to this amazing initiative, head on over to the Plastic Scanner website and get involved. Thank you so much for following along, and don't forget to stay tuned for more updates!

    Yours, Jerry ✌️

  • Plastic Scanner Endeavors

    Jerzeek02/02/2023 at 11:13 0 comments

    Plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. However, through the development of the Plastic Scanner project, we want to provide tools to fight plastic pollution. The Plastic Scanner is an open-source initiative aimed at making plastic sorting simple and accessible. The project uses discrete infrared LED technology and machine learning algorithms to identify the most common types of plastic and thus boost plastic recycling.

    Over the last two years, we have been working tirelessly to make the Plastic Scanner a reality. We have conducted research, built prototypes, and collected valuable data. The project is still in its development phase, but we have a plan in place to take it to the next level!

    To achieve this, we have broken down the project into specific small tasks, called endeavors, for people to come and help out. The endeavors have a fixed start and end and cover areas such as data analysis and spectroscopy analysis. They are designed to allow people from around the world to contribute to the project with their skills and time. The Delft team provides the tools and workspace to support these efforts.

    If you're interested in supporting the Plastic Scanner project, visit the website to learn more about the different endeavors and find the one that best suits your skills and interests. Whether you can contribute a little or a lot, every effort counts in reaching the goal of making an open-source plastic scanner that can be used around the world.

    Join us now in Delft or follow along for updates as they continue to develop new endeavors throughout the year. Together, we can help to revolutionize plastic recycling and make a positive impact on the environment!

    Read all of the endeavors

  • December update!

    Jerzeek01/03/2023 at 20:36 0 comments

    Hello everyone! Welcome to the final update of 2022! This month included a trip to Denmark, a visit to Plastix, and a review of our financials.

    The highlight of the month was definitely our visit to Gustav and Markus in Copenhagen. It was great to see their workspace and learn about the projects they are working on. We were also treated to some amazing Danish hospitality.

    While video chatting with our Danish counterparts had been useful, it was great to see firsthand the engineering and debugging efforts that go into developing the sensor board.

    Before traveling to Denmark, Markus and Gustav arranged a meeting with Plastix, a company located on the west side of Denmark that specializes in recycling fishing nets and ropes. They were among the first to tackle the challenge of recycling these difficult materials and have since gained a reputation as a leader in the field. They are also the primary partner of The Ocean Cleanup.

    During our visit to Plastix, we gained a better understanding of the challenges involved in recycling ropes, which are often made from multiple types of plastic and can become tangled during transport. The company currently relies on a single Thermo Fisher MicroPhazir, which can be complex to use and leaves room for improvement.

    As this is the final update of the year, we wanted to provide an update on our financials as well. In total, we spent €19,000

    • €5,000 going towards team compensation
    • €4,000 for tools and equipment
    • €3,000 for materials
    • €2,000 for rent
    • €2,000 for taxes
    • €1,000 for travel
    • €1,000 for other expenses
    • €1,000 for Jerry's compensation.

    Thank you all for following the project and watching it evolve over time. We will be revealing our plans for 2023 at the end of the month!

  • November update!

    Jerzeek12/01/2022 at 19:08 0 comments

    Hi everyone welcome to a new plastic scanner update!

    This is already number 11, November has now come and gone already. This month we have some cool hardware developments, from very basic developments to complex PCB developments.

    First up something quite basic, but in my opinion quite useful, a PCB with only the LEDs! This LED test board makes it possible to move the (rather expensive) NIR LEDs from one board to another. It allows for swapping them with red LEDs for debugging and makes it possible to build all these new test setups. So it gives a lot of flexibility and room for testing. It also makes it easier to test different shapes and sizes. The cool thing is that PCBway sponsored this PCB!

    Secondly, we have the new PCB made by Markus and Gustav, they wanted to see if they could make a small PCB that has all the components on there for the sensor side, and just an I2C connector to connect to any processing board. This makes the whole project more modular and independent of processor availability. In the future, this is something we would like to sell, an assembled board that is ready to go for projects or is integrated into a handheld scanner. Also, this PCB and the assembly were sponsored by PCBway

    And lastly, we have something completely different, a color scanner, so similar to a plastic scanner but then shifted in the spectrum. Instead of 950-1750nm, it is 400 to 800nm. It is based on the AS7341 module, which is an off-the-shelve sensor. This can really help us get an idea of how data flows and what to compensate for, for example, the spectral response of the LED as well as the sensitivity of the sensor.

    That is it for this month, thanks for tuning in 😎

  • October update!

    Jerzeek11/01/2022 at 10:36 0 comments

    Hey everyone,

    In this blog, I would like to share a little summary of the month of October with you. October was a month full of presenting and starting projects, so let's highlight some of these:

    First and foremost there was the Dutch Design Week! in preparation for the DDW we were asked if we could present our work at (re)valued exhibition, organized by the design agency vanBerlo. We were very proud to do so and so from October 22nd till the 29th we displayed the Plastic Scanner project. The exhibition was especially focused on the work the students did, highlighting their work and telling their stories. I am super proud of the work by Justė Motuzaitė, Jeppe Piersma, Dawn Verkerk, Gigi Bouman, and Markus Glavind. And with a couple of thousand people visiting the exhibition it creates some good exposure and some good questions 🙂

    Next up is to highlight Markus and Gustav, Markus already worked on the plastic scanner before and got so excited that he wanted to keep working on the project. So now He and Gustav are doing their thesis on the Plastic Scanner project! They will continue the previous work, researching beyond open source and seeing that shape and form of a commercial Plastic Scanner is viable.

    Then also Lin needs to be introduced, she does her Ph.D. on plastic recycling in low and middle-income countries (so a 100% match with the project). She pitched her proposal to do a 1:1 comparison with a commercial spectroscope, right in the field of Uganda and South Africa. Guess what? the proposal pitch won, and it can actually happen! So stay tuned for more of this!

    Lastly, we are also introducing two new partner companies, PCBway and Prusa!

    PCBway offered to manufacture the prototype PCBs to help out with the project, so we are looking forward to the things they can make.

    Also, Prusa reached out wanting to help out, so they send some plastic samples last week and also offered to have a look at the electronics schematics, awesome!🚀

    That is it for this month!

  • PCB way support

    Jerzeek10/30/2022 at 11:15 0 comments

    PCBway just reached out to the plastic scanner project, and wanted to help out with this awesome project!

    This is absolutely great and makes it possible to prototype even faster and quicker!

    For the first test, I made an ESP32 breakout board to test the quality, and I must say, it looks very good! The matt green PCB is spot on!

    Thank you PCBway, looking forward to a long-term collab :)

  • We are at the Dutch Design Week 2022

    Jerzeek10/22/2022 at 13:25 0 comments

    Get set, because we are at the Dutch Design Week 2022!

    The new Plastic Scanner model is on display at the innovation power house, accompanied by me or one of the students who made the stunning design!

    If you happen to be in Eindhoven this week, make sure to drop by, say hi, and ask any question you want.

  • September update!

    Jerzeek10/02/2022 at 10:55 0 comments

    Hi Plastic Scanner family,

    Here is already our 9th update from our side, the September update!

    in the last update, you could see us looking for help, and this is still the case. If you or someone you know has a background in physics, spectroscopy, data processing, or data science this kind of things, let us know, and we will help to get you involved in the project! ideally, someone who can work part-time here in Delft, but we are flexible 🙂. The quicker we have the right people in the right place, the quicker we can bring the Plastic Scanner to you!

    Besides that I did visit some very interesting places, and unlocked some of the key resources we were looking for: At the beginning of the month, I visited the Photonics research group of the Hague university of applied sciences. They have a lab full of spectroscopes, and quite amazing optical instruments! They were super friendly and are happy to help with the development of the Plastic Scanner, we can visit them to scan plastics and to get reference spectra!

    ✅ This basically unlocks our long-desired wish to have access to professional spectroscopes.

    Later in the month I also visited the Circular plastics research group of NHL Steden in Leeuwaarden. They focus specifically on the circularity of plastics, and on cleaning and sorting plastics. Just like the other research group they are super supportive and are happy to help with the development of the Plastic Scanner! they can help with knowledge of plastics and the different use cases of the Plastic Scanner.

    ✅ This also unlocks our long-desired wish to have access to pure reference polymers, so we know that the spectrum we measure is from the plastic and not from any additive.

    Lastly, we need to talk about the timeline of the project. At the beginning of the year, we set our goal to make the best possible open source plastic scanner that can identify PP,PE,PS,PET,PVC. But if we look at the roadmap, it can be seen that things are not going as fast as expected. Ideally, we would now have a design and start proper documentation to allow for replication. But we find that there are still too many uncertainties. So even though the year progress bar is still progressing, the development will take longer than 2022.

    This is all for this month, hope to see you back next month with new developments!

    Yours,  Jerry ✌️

  • August update!

    Jerzeek08/31/2022 at 18:56 0 comments

    Hi Plastic Scanner friends,

    We are devoting €10.000 euros for open source work on the Plastic Scanner

    €5.000 Job offer for optics development

    dig into the details of near-infrared spectroscopy, make different experimental setups and help the project make scientifically supporting design choices. The goal is to improve the quality of the plastic scanner from a physics perspective, by doing pragmatic experiments!

    Tasks to work on:

    • Calculate the optimal shape of the sensor cavity
    • Determine the added value of each infrared LED
    • Find ideal backing material
    • Calculate the best amplification of the InGaAs sensor

    €5.000 job offer for data processing

    Nerd out on the data coming from the Plastic Scanner, currently we can make nice 3D scatter plots to see the clustering of different plastic types. But it would be much cooler if a computer could do the interpretation for us, and give a number on the current quality of the setup!

    Tasks to work on:

    • Extract data from the microcontroller in an optimal way
    • Preprocess data
    • Analyze known samples and determine which properties of the measurement define the type of plastic the best.
    • Develop a machine learning model that uses the input of known plastic samples and makes a guess for new unknown samples.
    • Generate a datasheet on the performance of the model, and define metrics to measure the performance.

    We have an awesome workspace in Delft to build prototypes, make experimental setups, test samples, and have your creativity set free.

    Timeframe for this job offer is September 2022 to December 2022.

    Requirement: willing to work open source

    If this excites you, read a few more details here, make sure to join the Discord server, and send me an email with the things you want to work on together with some details about yourself. Greetz, Jerry✌️

  • July update!

    Jerzeek08/01/2022 at 12:55 0 comments

    Hi Plastic Scanner friends,
    This month has been all about holidays! So traveling, exploring, and relaxing.

    But I did make something small for you:
    An interview with Dave Hakkens (the guy who started Precious Plastic)
    about open source!

    I hope you like it and I am looking forward to working on the Plastic Scanner again!
    Greetz, Jerry✌️

View all 16 project logs

  • 1
    Complete build instruction

    The complete building instructions are available at:

    All the files are also available at:

    At this point in time, we want to keep the building instructions in a central place. The Plastic Scanner develops quite quickly and in order to keep a proper, and up-to-date, overview, we choose to host it in one central place.

    Once we have a complete release we will spread instructions on multiple platforms.

View all instructions

Enjoy this project?



madmedix wrote 06/29/2022 at 04:53 point

This.  is.  marvellous !!

Can't wait to fab it myself.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tom Nardi wrote 06/07/2022 at 03:55 point

Love this project, glad to see it in this year's Hackaday Prize.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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