Amazon teams up with recycling robot firm to track package waste


Amazon generates a lot of waste. Exactly how much is a matter of debate. The company says it used 214 million or so pounds of single-use plastic in its packaging in 2021. On the other hand, non-profit ocean conservation firm Oceana puts the figure at around ~700 million pounds. That’s a pretty big gap, but in any case, we’re talking about a lot of waste.

The company is making progress on this front as it moves towards an ambitious 2040 net-zero carbon emissions target. Take, for example, ongoing efforts to reduce package weight and replace plastic with paper products. Or, most recently, a new deal with Glacier.

This week, Amazon is announcing an investment through its Climate Pledge Fund and plans to apply the technology of a Bay Area recycling robotics startup to figure out where its packaging goes after it leaves consumers’ hands. What happens to?

“Our investment in Glacier is really about building a circular economy supply chain,” Nick Ellis, principal of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, told TechCrunch. “We want to do it sustainably, and that piece has always been a bit of a black box. Once that package reaches our customer’s door, what happens to it? Glacier finally allows us to see the final piece of the puzzle and understand whether packaging is ending up in a recycling stream or waste stream.

Glacier’s offering revolves around two primary products. The first is a robot that is primarily deployed in recycling facilities to sort various materials. At a very high level, this is similar to the offering from AMP Robotics. The second is AI scanner. The second one is operated by Amazon.

Image Credit: glacier

Glacier co-founder Arib Malik tells TechCrunch, “It allows both facilities and brands like Amazon to understand what’s happening inside their facility or with their products — or plastic at large in general.” in the ecosystem.” “We can install these cameras quite easily and quite widely to develop a picture of what’s happening behind the scenes in our dysfunctional economy.”

Glacier says it is currently working with customers in 10 states. According to co-founder and CEO Rebecca Hu, forming partnerships with companies and government agencies is a big part of that deployment. “We have been very united in making inroads with brands and producers like Amazon and other Fortune 500 companies, as well as government agencies, whether it’s municipal government like the city of Phoenix, who are currently working with us to understand this. Has been. Recycling stream. We have also received a significant grant from the Michigan Department of Environment for further deployment of our technology. There’s a lot coming together in the overall ecosystem.”

Amazon is co-leading the new $7.7 million round with New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Other investors include Alicorp, Overture VC and VSC Ventures.

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