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Amp Robotics raises $91M for trash-sorting bots

Illustration of three robot arms in the shape of a recycling symbol.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Amp Robotics, based in Denver, this morning announced that it closed a $91 million Series C financing round for its waste-sorting machines.

Why it matters: Recycling sorting is labor-intensive and expensive — which means the vast majority of recyclable waste ends up in landfills. Amp says its robots make the process not just viable but lucrative.

Details: Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management led the Series C. It had an initial close in July.

  • The round brought a $571 million post-money valuation, per Pitchbook. A lead investor tells Axios that the figure is "relatively accurate."

State of play: Major companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have so far struggled to fulfill ambitious recycling pledges.

  • Just 5% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled. Worldwide, it's barely 9%.
  • Sorting at recycling facilities is typically done by hand, which is expensive. Even then, the process inevitably allows mistakes that cause impurities.
  • "There’s going to be a massive rotation toward trying to find high-quality recycled content," Abe Yokell, co-founder and managing partner at Congruent Ventures, tells Axios. "Amp is right in the middle of that."

What they're doing: Amp has built robots that use AI to quickly sort a broad array of waste.

  • By replacing human labor, a sorting facility's costs drop as much as 50% or even 70%, the company's founder says.
  • The robots also produce more accurate waste streams — commodities that can then be sold for higher prices.

Of note: Amp has two main revenue streams: selling/leasing its robots, and selling the sorted waste as commodities.

  • The company is focused on consumer recycling. But its technology also works for construction debris, electronic waste and other markets.

What's next: Amp has deployed about 275 of its robots. It runs three production facilities, in the Denver, Atlanta and Cleveland areas.

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