- Recycleye, founded in 2019, is a pioneering technology company utilizing AI, computer vision, and robotics to revolutionize global waste management.
- Their cutting-edge solutions enhance waste sorting, increase recycling rates, and contribute to a more sustainable future by addressing challenges like plastic pollution and resource waste.
- With a focus on transparency and traceability, Recycleye aims to bring efficiency to the waste management sector and transform the circular economy.
Are you guys ready for the most epic dumpster dive ever? Because waste sorting just got a snazzy, bougie upgrade. Recycleye is a ground-breaking technology company bringing advanced machine learning, computer vision, and robotics to the global waste management industry.
We already know how badly we need an efficient waste management system. The earth is undergoing climate change, water bodies are getting polluted, animals are dying, and countless other devastating effects of our carelessness towards the environment.
In addition to that, the trouble is that sorting, melting and ultimately reusing most plastic — which can only get recycled a couple of times — is way costlier than buying virgin plastic, and obviously asks for a lot more effort. Most of the time, we simply don’t do it, and therefore, most plastic (about 91%, per OECD) is not recycled and single-use plastic production is at an all-time high.
By focusing on speeding up scanning, identifying, and sorting used materials, Recycleye is one among many companies that are attempting to fix part of this broken system with AI.
Citing OECD’s report, Recycleye said,
“Changing this wasteful and environmentally damaging dynamic, seen across a range of materials, presents a tremendous business opportunity.”
So, not only does Recycleye make waste sorting a breeze, but it also paves the way for a more sustainable future. By ensuring precise separation of materials, they facilitate efficient recycling processes, reducing waste contamination and boosting recycling rates.
It's like winning the lottery for both the environment and the recycling industry! They have brought in the marvel of machines and computers and robots to an industry in desperate need. Their mission is to digitize and decentralize the recycling industry by using 21st-century technology, enabling autonomous decision-making.
The days of manual waste sorting are long gone. Say hello to a future where machines and algorithms join forces to tackle our mounting trash problem. With Recycleye's cutting-edge technology, they have revolutionized the waste management game, and we've got hope for our future.
So how did it all begin?
Let's dive deeper and take a closer look at this intelligent waste management startup that aims to bring transparency to the recycling industry. It began its operation in 2019, with its founders, Victor Dewulf, a Belgian entrepreneur, and Peter Hedley, a British computer scientist.
The idea for Recycleye began when Dewulf visited a recycling facility as part of his degree. He was surprised at the level of manual labor involved, making sorting waste prohibitively expensive and limiting the volume of recycled material. He suspected that a type of artificial intelligence called computer vision could improve the process.
Computer vision enables computers to see, observe, and understand. It enables computers and systems to derive meaningful information from digital images, videos, and other visual inputs — and take actions or make recommendations based on that information.
For this, Dewulf turned to his friend Peter Hedley to partner on the project. Together, they began developing their system in Peter’s parents’ garage using a camera, a treadmill, and a pile of trash from a dumpster.
After successfully training their initial computer vision system, they founded Recycleye. Since then, they have raised millions in funding and have so far deployed 17 vision systems and five robot arms, with more in the pipeline. It has been more than 3 years now and Recycleye is a fully-fledged company, getting closer and closer to achieving its goal.
Victor and Peter see their work as a key step in creating a sustainable economy.
“Applying computer vision and new technologies like robotics means that we can start accelerating the automation of the waste industry,” says Victor. “And ultimately that means accelerating our economy’s transition to a circular economy to the point where our removal chains can be merged back into our supply chains.”
Looking into their technological advancements
Their proven Recycleye Vision and Robotics solutions increase plant performance, enabling data-driven strategic decision-making and delivering transparency, traceability, and efficiency.
They developed a computer vision system and affordable robotics to build the world’s first fully automated material recovery facility. Their vision system can detect all items in water streams, broken down by material, object, and even brand.
They are innovating automated turnkey solutions that will unlock the full potential of the existing sorting infrastructure. Recycleye says its machine learning and scanning tech “is twice as fast as the industry standard and means that each item is seen on average 30 times as it passes along the conveyor belt, with double the chance of being accurately identified before picking.”
Recycleye has raised a total of $26M in funding over 4 rounds. They are funded by Promus Ventures, Creator Fund, and others. The company is currently working with 2 of the three largest waste management companies in the UK to provide total waste knowledge and is supported by Microsoft AI for Good, Playfair Capital, Atypical Ventures, and others.
Looking back, sorting these materials and resources has cost more than selling them, leaving very little room for an incentive to recycle properly. This changes today due to innovative, data-driven technology, which is faster, smarter, and way more reliable, the task of sorting waste is now done in a proper manner.
As one would expect, and know, the waste management industry is pretty wasteful. Recycleye is looking to bring transparency and traceability to the dirty sector by using AI to help machines be as precise as the human eye; and to deliver more profitable material recovery through robust, reliable, and effective sorting technology.
Let's applaud and celebrate Recycleye for turning the world’s waste into resources.
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Edited by Shruti Thapa