Amp Robotics Corp., Louisville, Colorado, has raised $91 million in corporate equity in a Series C financing, led by Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management and new and existing investors, including Blue Earth Capital, XN and Valor Equity Partners. This round of funding follows a $55 million Series B financing led by XN in 2021.
“Advancements in robotics and automation are accelerating the transformation of traditional infrastructure and Amp is seeking to reshape the waste and recycling industries," says Michael DeLucia, sector lead for climate investing at Wellington Management. "By bringing digital intelligence to the recycling industry, Amp can sort waste streams and extract additional value beyond what is otherwise possible.”
According to a news release from Amp, the company will use the latest funding to scale its business operations while continuing its international expansion. The company says demand for robotics to retrofit existing recycling infrastructure continues to grow in demand for recycled commodities of all types.
The company says the new capital will enhance manufacturing capacity to support a fleet of about 275 robots around the world and further Amp’s ongoing development of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled automation applications for recycling, like Amp Vortex. 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,” says 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, about 86 percent was landfilled, 9 percent was combusted and 5 percent 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 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,” says Abe Yokell, co-founder and managing partner of Congruent Ventures. “It is a privilege to support such a mission-driven team as they have grown from an eight-person operation to an industry leader.”
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 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 company says the strength of its AI also makes secondary sorting technically and economically feasible. Through its secondary sortation model, Amp recovers mixed paper, metals and a portfolio of Nos. 1 to 7 plastics in various 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.
In 2022, Amp expanded its leadership team with key hires to lead engineering, finance and people. Amp also recently expanded its partnership with Waste Connections, 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.