London-based technology company Recycleye closed a GBP 3.5M seed round

Having developed the world’s largest visual AI database of waste items and low-cost robotics technology that automates dangerous manual labour, Recycleye enables waste management companies, including Biffa, to increase the purity and value of materials.

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 GBP 4.7M since it was founded in 2019 by CEO Victor Dewulf and CTO Peter Hedley.

Already relied upon by waste management leaders Biffa and ReGen in the UK and three of the five largest waste management companies in Europe, Recycleye will use the funding to scale and enhance the accuracy, scope, and capabilities of its world-leading machine learning and robotics technology. In addition, it will continue to bolster its team, 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.

The recent IPCC (UN) report on climate change, ahead of COP26 in November, has further highlighted that solving the recycling epidemic is one of the world’s most pressing challenges, with two billion tonnes of waste produced annually, according to World Bank. In the UK, more waste is now burned rather than recycled, with 11.6 million tonnes incinerated in 2019 compared to the 10.9 million tonnes sent for recycling.

Using advanced machine learning to train the world’s most powerful recycling robots, Recycleye 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 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 GBP 2M each year. The company counts Microsoft, NVIDIA, Imperial College London, and FANUC as key technological and strategic partners.

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.

Victor Dewulf, CEO of Recycleye

Recycleye Vision – World-Beating Machine Learning Accuracy

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. While current UK regulation requires facilities to sample just 0.05% of waste, Recycleye Vision analyses 100% of it, with computer vision the only technological breakthrough that can achieve such visibility on waste streams without packaging or production processes being physically altered. 

Recycleye Robotics – Automated Waste Picking and Sorting 

A highly intelligent waste management system, 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.

Developed in partnership with world-leading robotics manufacturer FANUC and the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, units have been installed within two facilities across the UK and France so far, with another three confirmed for the coming months. 

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. Waste doesn’t exist, only materials in the wrong place, and intelligent technology can realise this.

Peter Hedley, CTO of Recycleye

Recycleye is currently in the final phase of the RawMaterials Accelerator programme, which will support the team in advancing automation in the recycling industry. We are excited to see yet another milestone for the team digitalising the waste industry and fostering the transition to a circular economy.

Read more