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Glacier, a company that creates robots that sort recycling, announced that it has launched out of stealth and raised $4.5 million in seed funding.
According to the EPA, the United States recycles more than 60 million tons of waste every year. Glacier hopes to make sure that more of those items actually get recycled, instead of ending up in landfills.
“When people think about fighting climate change, recycling is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. But recycling is actually one of the only climate solutions that can deliver significant impact immediately, because all the necessary infrastructure either already exists or is emerging now, like our technology,” Glacier cofounder Areeb Malik said.
According to Glacier, many recycling facilities are understaffed by as much as 50%, meaning they don’t have the manpower to manually sort all of the items that come through the facility. Glacier’s robots are able to sort over 30 different item types, and are 60% less expensive than other sortation robots. The robot is able to pick 45 items a minute in real recycling facilities.
“Almost every facility is interested in robotic sorters, but they’ve assumed robots are out of reach because of high cost and inconsistent ROI. Customers are shocked when they learn what Glacier offers,” cofounder Rebecca Hu said. “We’ve been overwhelmed by all the customer enthusiasm for our product.”
Glacier put its first robot to work in a commercial facility earlier this month. The company’s robot is sorting eight different target materials across two conveyor belts simultaneously at a recycling facility in California.
New Enterprise Associates (NEA), a global venture capital firm that invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages, led the funding round. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Sierra Peterson, a climate technology investor and co-founder of Voyager, also participated in the funding round.
“Solving the recycling industry’s acute labor shortages with intelligent robotics and AI is a massive commercial opportunity but also an important step toward significantly reducing emissions and waste,” Ann Bordetsky, partner at NEA, said. “We’re proud to back Glacier’s experienced and passionate team as they introduce automation and data intelligence to an essential industry that we all rely on every day.”
Glacier was founded in 2019, and is based in San Francisco. The company’s goal is to fight climate change by ensuring everything possible can be recycled.