AMP Robotics Corp. (“AMP”), a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and infrastructure for the waste and recycling industry, has raised $91 million in corporate equity in a Series C financing, led by Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management as well as new and existing investors including Blue Earth Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP), Tao Capital Partners, XN, Sequoia Capital, GV, Range Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners. This new round of funding follows a $55 million Series B financing led by XN in January 2021.
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AMP’s proprietary technology applies computer vision and deep learning to identify and recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons, and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing. (Graphic: Business Wire)
“Advancements in robotics and automation are accelerating the transformation of traditional infrastructure, and AMP is seeking to reshape the waste and recycling industries,” said Michael DeLucia, sector lead for Climate Investing, Wellington Management. “By bringing digital intelligence to the recycling industry, AMP can sort waste streams and extract additional value beyond what is otherwise possible.”
AMP will use the latest funding to scale its business operations while continuing its international expansion. Demand for robotics to retrofit existing recycling infrastructure continues to thrive; among historic demand for recycled commodities of all types, the industry needs capacity to meet the 2025 goals of consumer packaged goods companies that have committed to the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content. The company’s core technology business has grown accordingly; the new capital will enhance manufacturing capacity to support a fleet of approximately 275 robots around the world and further AMP’s ongoing development of AI-enabled automation applications for recycling, like AMP Vortex™, the company’s latest innovation for recovery of film and flexible packaging. AMP also has three production facilities in the Denver, Atlanta, and Cleveland metropolitan areas; the funding will help drive further growth of the company’s secondary sortation business in the United States.
“Our focus from the outset has been our application of AI-powered automation to economically and sustainably improve our global recycling system,” said Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of AMP Robotics. “We’ve been fortunate to attract a passionate team, loyal customers, and visionary investors along the way. With this new funding, we’ll accelerate our efforts to modernize and expand our recycling infrastructure, aiding society’s path to a circular economy.”
The recycling industry contributes nearly $117 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and the industry processes 130 million metric tons of valuable commodities annually. The global waste and recycling services market is expected to grow considerably in the coming years amid heightened consumer concern about the environmental impacts of waste.
Of the estimated 44 million metric tons of plastic waste managed domestically in 2019, approximately 86% was landfilled, 9% was combusted, and 5% was recycled, according to a recent Department of Energy report on plastics. Landfilled plastics represented significant losses to the country's economy in 2019: an average of $7.2 billion USD in market value. The recovery of U.S. plastic packaging and food-service plastic alone could represent a pool of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $2 billion to $4 billion per year.
“AMP’s technology is rewriting the economics of recycling, marrying purpose with profit for our recycling partners,” said Abe Yokell, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures. “It is a privilege to be able to support such a mission-driven team as they have grown from an eight-person operation to an industry leader.”
“We look forward to supporting the AMP team in scaling cost-effective waste management solutions for the circular economy using technology, efficiency, and automation,” added Kayode Akinola, head of Private Equity at Blue Earth Capital. “AMP is helping to promote emissions reductions and resource efficiency whilst meeting a growing demand for recycled materials.”
AMP’s proprietary technology applies computer vision and deep learning to identify and recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons, and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing. The company’s AI platform, AMP Neuron™, has recognized more than 50 billion objects in real-world conditions, making it the largest known dataset of recyclable materials for machine learning.
Data is seen as key to improving recycling and recovery rates for a circular economy. As part of the National Recycling Strategy released last year, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited measurement standardization and increased data collection as one of its five objectives. AMP continues to break new ground in the application of data for recycling with its material characterization software, which digitizes the real-time flow of recyclables with precision and consistency. Better data provides opportunities to identify gaps in material capture, transparency on what recyclables are and are not recycled, and a basis for standardized measurement vital to improving the national recycling system.
The strength of AMP’s AI also makes secondary sorting technically and economically feasible. Through its secondary sortation model, AMP recovers mixed paper, metals, and a portfolio of #1-#7 plastics in a variety of form factors and attributes with high precision and purity, with a special focus on plastic blends uniquely enabled by AI. The company resells these commodities, including bespoke chemical and polymer blends needed by processors and manufacturers, to end-market buyers.
Brian Barlow, co-founder and co-CEO of SIP, added, “Given our unique focus on technology-enabled infrastructure systems, we've supported AMP since its early seed fundraise and seen it grow AI into an essential piece of the industry. We look forward to continuing to provide strategic guidance about how its technology can be commercially scaled into the physical environment, including AMP's secondary facilities.”
In 2022, AMP expanded its leadership team with the addition of key hires to lead engineering, finance, and people. Josh Hollin joined the company as vice president of engineering; he most recently served as vice president of engineering and global product launch teams at Flex, a leader in technology innovation, supply chain, and manufacturing solutions. Beth Dec joined as vice president of people from Vail Resorts, where she was vice president of HR shared services and talent acquisition. Regina Madigan brings more than 20 years of experience in corporate finance, spanning publicly traded, private, and international corporations, to her role as vice president of finance; she was most recently vice president of finance and controller for Paragon 28 during the company’s initial public offering.
In a move representative of the industry’s strong adoption of AI and robotics technology, AMP recently expanded its partnership with Waste Connections, Inc. (TSX/NYSE: WCN), its largest customer. Since late 2020, Waste Connections has booked or deployed 50 of AMP’s high-speed robotics systems on plastic, fiber, and residue lines, becoming the largest operator of AI-guided robotics in the industry.
About AMP Robotics™ Corp.
AMP Robotics is modernizing the world’s recycling infrastructure by applying AI and automation to increase recycling rates and economically recover recyclables reclaimed as raw materials for the global supply chain. The AMP Cortex™ high-speed robotics system automates the identification and sorting of recyclables from mixed material streams. The AMP Neuron™ AI platform continuously trains itself by recognizing different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, patterns, and even brand labels to identify materials and their recyclability. Neuron then guides robots to pick and place the material to be recycled. Designed to run 24/7, all of this happens at superhuman speed with extremely high accuracy. AMP Clarity™ provides data and material characterization on what recyclables are captured and missed, helping recycling businesses and producers maximize recovery. With deployments across North America, Asia, and Europe, AMP’s technology recovers recyclables from municipal collection, precious commodities from electronic scrap, high-value materials from construction and demolition debris, and valuable feedstocks from organic material.
About Congruent Ventures
Congruent Ventures is a leading early stage venture firm focused on partnering with entrepreneurs to build companies addressing climate and sustainability challenges across four themes: Mobility and Urbanization, the Energy Transition, Food and Agriculture, and Sustainable Production and Consumption. With more than 45 companies in the portfolio, Congruent is amongst the most active investors in the climate and sustainability ecosystem.
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