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Startup using AI to sort recyclable materials raises £1.65m

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A London-based startup using lasers and AI to spot recyclable materials in waste piles and stop them being incinerated has secured £1.65m in funding.

Founded in 2022, Sorted’s technology uses computer vision and spectroscopy – measuring electromagnetic fields – to identify recyclable items at waste facilities.

The startup then uses lasers controlled by AI to guide human pickers to recover materials that would otherwise end up in landfill or an incinerator.

Recovering recyclable materials can reduce carbon emissions. Sorted says that one application of its technology reduced residual waste recovery by over 50%.

The startup is targeting waste management and recycling companies as customers. It has already secured contracts with SUEZ UK and Cawleys.

“We use AI to augment and better enable human pickers, and our UK pilots show increased revenue and performance as well as reduced costs through using Sorted’s technology,” said Arthur Goujon, co-founder and CTO at Sorted.

“Under pressure to comply with upcoming regulations such as the UK Emissions Trading Scheme, our customers are actively seeking ways to reduce the amount of materials such as carbon-heavy plastic they send to incineration and avoid increased fees.”

Goujon has more than 15 years in management and technology, including a senior role at Sorted customer SUEZ.

His co-founder, Luis Espinosa, has experience scaling businesses including Uber and DiDi.

The seed funding round was led by Pi Labs, a London-based venture capital firm that focuses on built-world startups. In 2022, the investment firm closed a $90m fund to back proptech startups.

Other investors in Sorted include Archipelago Ventures, Circular Plastics Accelerator, Conduit Connect and Antler. Angel investors also participated in the round.

“Corporations risk running afoul of their own corporate sustainability goals unless they maximise their ability to obtain recycled materials,” said Faisal Butt, founder and managing partner at Pi Labs.

“With the creation of their super pickers, Sorted has created a digitalised and sustainable solution to this problem while helping their customers contribute to a circular economy.”

Sorted isn’t the only UK startup developing technology to sort through waste. Greyparrot, which also uses computer vision, raised nearly £9m in Series A funding in 2022.

Listen: Greyparrot CEO on tackling ‘relentless’ rubbish with computer vision

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