London’s Greyparrot picks up €10.2 million to solve the global waste problem with a circular economy approach

Waste is a big problem. Our society, on a global level, cannot sustain the quantities of waste that we are currently creating and it is mounting an increasing burden – environmentally, socially, politically and financially. London-based Greyparrot wants to make a change and is using tech to put waste to use. 

The startup is using computer vision technology to monitor, analyse and sort tonnes of waste at scale and it has just picked up about €10.2 million to boost the mission. The funding was led by Una Terra, with participation from investors including Closed Loop Partners, Unreasonable Group and Speedinvest. 

To date, there has been limited data on the 2.1 billion tonnes of waste produced each year and this means there has been no systematic transparency on its composition or accountability for how waste is managed. This goes some way to explain why recycling rates have remained at 10% at best. Despite consumers’ best efforts to recycle, poor packaging design and ineffective sorting mean that much of what goes into recycling bins still ends up in landfills. 

Founded in 2019, Greyparrot’s AI-powered computer vision system has now analysed over ten billion packaging items in sorting plants to increase recycling rates and introduce accountability to the waste value chain. It’s bringing much-needed transparency and answers to an inefficient system. 

Mikela Druckman, co-founder and CEO, Greyparrot explained: “Waste has been recognised as the fourth biggest contributor to climate change, yet the data surrounding it has been sparse at best. This is a huge missed opportunity. We are putting a monetary value on waste – something that is perceived to have a negative value. Providing access to granular waste data can also have a big impact at a macro level, helping to shape government policies around recycling and influencing the decisions producers make about their packaging.”

The company is already working with leaders in waste management – such as Suez, Veolia and Biffa (who collectively cover 60% of the market) – to transform the waste industry and promote the vision that waste can be valued as a resource. 

The unprecedented data the company has gathered on product packaging is directly impacting policy and packaging design, enabling data-backed decisions to be made by stakeholders along the entire waste value chain. Additionally, suppliers of recycling hardware have integrated the Greyparrot AI model into their sorting machinery and robots. With this, Greyparrot enables the industry to elevate the performance of its sorting infrastructure with AI intelligence.

Ron Gonen, Founder & CEO of Closed Loop Partners, added: “Greyparrot’s AI-powered system has the potential to track billions of packages and materials in the recycling value chain which will lead to a number of major efficiencies. Their technology can integrate easily with existing recycling infrastructure, improving efficiency and material capture rates. Closed Loop Partners looks forward to working with their team as they grow their reach and impact around the world.”

Recognised as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum 2021, Greyparrot is the brainchild of three co-founders: experienced commercial leader Mikela Druckman, serial entrepreneur Ambarish Mitra and AI expert Nikola Sivacki. This funding boost will now be used to grow the team and grow its global footprint, expand to new waste types to include some of the world’s heaviest polluting industries, and double down on its research and development. The aim is that in the coming year, the company can contribute to diverting 30k tonnes of waste from landfills.  

Luca Zerbini, previously the VP of Sustainability at Amcor and now Partner at ESG-focused VC fund Una Terra, said: “Greyparrot is on its way to transform the $1.6T waste management industry and significantly influence the $1T packaging industry, enabling a feedback loop to FMCG players and providing EPR-relevant data. From the first meeting, we knew we wanted to lead this round: Greyparrot has a stellar founding team with a wealth of industry experience across waste management, AI and Machine Learning, a technology solution that works with existing infrastructure, and industry-leading customer satisfaction rates which is the best predictor of significant growth ahead”.