Recycleye secures £3.5m for AI-powered recycling robot

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London-based technology company Recycleye has raised £3.5m in seed funding to further develop its AI-powered robotic waste management solution.

Using advanced machine learning to train its recycling robots, Recycleye said its system prevents valuable recyclates from being downcycled, a result of inefficient and ineffective manual labour, with human workers facing dangerous, dull and dirty working conditions, and unreliable machinery.

The AI-powered robotic waste picking system has been installed at a
waste management site in Reading

The company aims to empower recycling facilities to increase the purity and subsequent value of their output, increasing the resale value of bales fivefold. By lowering operational expenditure, Recycleye added it can save facilities up to £2m each year.

The company counts Microsoft, Nvidia, Imperial College London, and Fanuc as key technological and strategic partners. Its solution has been deployed by waste management firms Biffa and ReGen in the UK, and three of the five largest waste management companies in Europe.

This latest funding round was led by deep-tech venture capital firm Promus Ventures through its Orbital Ventures space fund, and with existing investors Playfair Capital, MMC Ventures, Atypical Ventures, and Creator Fund all participating. The company’s seed round takes its total funding to-date to £4.7m since it was founded in 2019.

Recycleye has developed the world’s largest visual AI database of waste items for its robotic system

The funding will be used to scale and enhance the accuracy, scope, and capabilities of its machine learning and robotics technology. In addition, it will continue to grow its team, expand into new European markets, and further consolidate within existing territories, including the UK, France, and Italy. The company will also use the investment to expand its product line beyond vision systems.

“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”, said CEO Victor Dewulf, who left investment banking at Goldman Sachs to study for a PhD in machine vision so he could gain the skills to tackle the recycling problem. Dewulf initially tested the company’s AI by throwing waste items on a treadmill.

“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 added.

Read moreMTC and Recycleye partner on AI-based waste solution

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