London-based waste management startup Recycleye raises £3.5M to solve waste epidemic with AI & robotics

Recycleye, a developer of digital tools designed to detect and provide analytics on waste management, has raised a £3.5M funding in a seed round.

Who invested?

The round was led by deep-tech venture capital firm Promus Ventures through its Orbital Ventures space fund. Other existing investors like Playfair Capital, MMC Ventures, Atypical Ventures, and Creator Fund, participated. To date, the company has raised £4.7M in funding. 

How will the funding be used?

The London-based company will use the funding to further enhance the accuracy of its technology and expand its team. In addition, it will expand into new European markets, and further consolidate within existing territories (including the UK, France, and Italy), and expand its product line beyond vision systems.  

Solving the world’s waste epidemic

Founded in 2019 by Victor Dewulf and Peter Hedley, Recycleye uses advanced machine learning, computer vision, and robotics to bring transparency, traceability, and accountability to the waste management industry.

Recycleye prevents valuable recyclates from being downcycled, a result of inefficient and ineffective manual labour.

The company empowers recycling facilities to increase the purity and subsequent value of their output, increasing the resale value of bales fivefold. 

By lowering operational expenditure, Recycleye can save facilities up to £2M each year. The company counts Microsoft, NVIDIA, Imperial College London, and FANUC as key technological and strategic partners. 

What is Recycleye Vision?

Combining AI, smart analytics, and low-cost cameras, Recycleye Vision is an end-to-end operating system that provides facilities with unprecedented visibility on waste composition, and operations. 

Recycleye Vision is underpinned by WasteNet, the world’s largest visual database of waste items, developed in partnership with Imperial College London and the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. 

Consisting of over 2,700,000 labelled images (with this number growing continuously), WasteNet uses intelligent software and computer vision algorithms to replicate, and ultimately outperform, human vision, and identify waste items at a brand and weight level. 

By applying machine learning, Recycleye is able to increase the granularity of waste sorting by, for example, detecting food vs non-food-grade plastics (which to date has not been possible), and in the process increase the resale value of bales fivefold.

So far, Recycleye Vision is installed within more than 10 facilities across the UK, France, and Italy.

Recycleye Robotics

Recycleye Robotics is a robotic picking system that automates an otherwise dull, dirty, and dangerous manual task.  

Powered by Recycleye Vision’s AI classification capabilities, Recycleye Robotics currently operates at a rate of 55 successful picks per minute, which exceeds human performance by over 20%, and weighs 75% less than any other existing unit on the market, making installation and retrofitting easier and cheaper.

“Waste is not recycled when the cost of recycling exceeds the value of the sorted material. By lowering the cost of recycling with artificial intelligence and robotics, we’re breaking this threshold and building a world where our removal chains are fully integrated back into our supply chains”, comments CEO Victor Dewulf. 

“It’s startling to see just how inefficient and reliant on archaic, manual processes the waste management industry is. To ensure our team understands the pain of human picking, and the need to replace it with technology, we take them on retreats to trash dumps across Europe. We are delighted to be backed by Promus Ventures, a VC firm with a track record of backing and scaling deep tech companies with world-changing ideas like ours,” he adds.

“We have already demonstrated the impact of applying the latest robotics and AI technology to the waste management sector, and this funding will enable us to continue to improve our existing products,” adds CTO Peter Hedley. “Waste doesn’t exist, only materials in the wrong place, and intelligent technology can realise this.” 

Mike Collett, Managing Partner at Promus Ventures, comments: “We are excited to back the team at Recycleye and their ambition to automate and digitalize operations in the waste management industry. We were impressed with the team’s vision and execution to date, and we firmly believe their waste-sorting AI platform will transform recycling facilities, making them more efficient and optimal.”

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