AMP Robotics has developed Artificial Intelligence-powered robots that can identify, sort and process waste. The company is the latest in a growing number of startups that are looking to automate, cut costs and improve efficiencies in the waste processing and recycling system.

Founded in 2015, the Denver, Colorado-based company raised $16 million in series A on Thursday led by Sequoia Capital, bringing its total funding to $22.6 million. 

The AI-powered system can process municipal solid waste, waste from electronics and construction debris at a speed of 80 items per minute, twice as fast as humans, the company claims

Venture capital investments in smart waste management companies increased substantially in the last 10 years, as demand skyrocketed after China refused to import U.S. waste two years ago. Last year a record $664 million was invested in 46 deals, 10 times that of five five years ago, according to PitchBook data. 

There are at least 25 companies working in the smart waste management field, according to PitchBook data. Atlanta, Georgia-based Rubicon Global raised $161 million  in series E funding led by New Zealand Superannuation Fund in what was the largest deal in this sector this year.

  • “Tackling climate change in a meaningful way also means addressing waste management on a structural level in every city and state,” Karma’s Daria Solovieva wrote in recent column, citing “Investing in Waste-to-Value,” a report published by research company Boundless Impact Investing and FullCycle Climate Partners, an investment firm focused on climate challenges.
  • AMP robots train themselves by processing millions of material images delivered by the built-in vision system. Customers can view the recycling data via AMP’s online tools, according to the company website
  • While cities like Toronto, Arlington and Seattle have been leading the way of implementing smart waste management systems, China presents an even larger market as a compulsory garbage-sorting regulation rolled out in Shanghai in July and other 45 Chinese cities.