UK startup Greyparrot raises €2 million in seed funding round to revolutionise recycling with waste recognition software

UK startup Greyparrot raises €2 million in seed funding round to revolutionise recycling with waste recognition software

Published: 27-05-2020 14:45:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 5416 | Tags:

AI tech startup Greyparrot has raised €2 million to tackle the growing waste crisis by introducing digitisation and automation to recycling. The round was led by Speedinvest, a leading early-stage industrial tech investor, with participation from Force Over Mass. The additional funding will be used to further develop and scale Greyparrot’s solution across global markets, setting the company up to revolutionise the recycling industry with artificial intelligence.

Greyparrot provides waste recognition software to monitor and sort waste at scale. Their first product, an Automated Waste Monitoring System, is currently deployed on moving conveyor belts in sorting facilities to measure large waste flows. The system automatically identifies different types of waste, providing composition information and analytics to help facilities increase recycling rates.

To date, 60% of the 2 billion tons of solid waste produced each year ends up in open dumps and landfill, causing major environmental impact. A trade‐off between economic viability and recycling rates leads to low recycling levels of 14% globally. This is partly due to inefficient recycling systems, rising labour costs, and strict quality requirements imposed on recycled material.

The company launched in 2019, at a time when the waste management industry was on the cusp of its biggest transformation. Regulation banning waste exports to China and the introduction of strict recycling targets caused an urgent need to recycle locally and much more efficiently. Alongside this, the BBC TV series ‘Blue Planet’ gave rise to consumer concerns over climate change and saw producers setting ambitious zero-waste-to-landfill goals. The opportunity for Greyparrot is clear, and the company’s ambition is to become a driving force for the recovery of waste materials using cutting-edge technology.

Mikela Druckman, Co-founder & CEO of Greyparrot said: ''One of the key problems we are solving is the lack of data. We see increasing demand from consumers, brands, governments and waste managers for better insights to transition to a more circular economy. There is an urgent opportunity to optimise waste management with further digitisation and automation using deep learning.''

Harrison Kim, Managing Director said: ''The company has partnered with the largest recycling system integrator in South Korea, ACI, who design, build and maintain 60% of government-owned Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and Mechanical Biological Treatment Facilities (MBT) in the country. AI-enabled machine vision is needed to detect materials that current machineries cannot. This software gives us data insights to maximise our material recovery.''

Currently, less than 1% of waste is monitored and audited. This expensive manual process is difficult to scale and provides little insight into facilities. Working with key players in the industry, real-time analysis on 100% of waste flows is increasing the efficiency of recycling plants, giving quality guarantee to buyers and mitigating against risk. 

The company’s focus on building cutting-edge software while adopting affordable hardware makes its solution ideal for large-scale deployment even in emerging markets. Greyparrot also has an advantage in being hardware agnostic, providing intelligent software which can be customised and integrated with hardware across multiple use cases. This model gives further flexibility and scalability to its customers. The company is already collaborating with suppliers of next-gen systems such as smart bins and sorting robots.

Greyparrot’s team has a track record of building world-leading recognition systems. The founders Mikela Druckman, Ambarish Mitra, Nikola Sivacki and Marco Paladini set out to solve a business challenge that creates positive social impact. The result is an AI startup using deep learning and machine vision to bring waste management into the 21st century.

Wayne Hubbard, CEO of the London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) said: ''We are thrilled to see that Greyparrot, a start-up business supported by LWARB’s Advance London programme, has been able to secure significant private investment to scale their ground-breaking technology. AI, robotics and other innovative technologies in the waste industry will be key to ensure the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy.'' LWARB is a partnership of the Mayor of London and the London boroughs to improve waste and resource management in the city.

Marie-Hélène Ametsreiter, Lead Partner at Speedinvest Industry, said: ''Waste is not only a massive market – it builds up to a global crisis. With an increase in both world population and per capita consumption, waste management is critical to sustaining our way of living. Greyparrot’s solution has proven to bring down recycling costs and help plants recover more waste. Ultimately it unlocks the value of waste and creates a measurable impact for the environment.''

Having reached early product-market fit with a pre-seed round led by Candy Ventures, Greyparrot will use the new round’s funds to develop their product and scale across global markets. The company’s goal is to become the most accurate and widely used waste recognition software to unlock the financial value of waste, which will, in turn, keep our planet clean for generations to come.