Interview we did with EDC for winning Canada’s cleantech innovation of the year

 

What they do: An environmental and recycling tech startup that designs robots to sort organic waste and make the process more efficient, profitable and cost-effective.

How their product works: Deep learning algorithms and state-of-the-art robotic technologies are integrated to enable faster, safer, more precise and profitable waste recycling. Robots are programmed to recognize bags that contain organic waste and effectively sort and separate these bags from garbage and single-stream recycling.

Their mission: To become the world leader in robotic waste and recycling sorting solutions by making sorting facilities as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Their impact: With widespread labour shortages across the globe, these robotic garbage pickers are filling a much-needed gap and can sort quickly and efficiently—up to nine tonnes per hour per robot.

The recovered organics are sent for composting or the production of biogas. Everything that’s separated is either recycled or resold, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill by as much as 98%.

And with a lifespan of 15 years, Katherine Diamond, marketing director for Waste Robotics, says the robots offer a good return on investment. “Payback for the technology is within a year,” she says.

As an added savings, there’s no need for separate bins, additional trucks or extra staff.

Challenges: “Our biggest challenge is educating our customers about AI (artificial intelligence) and robotics. They don’t know much because it’s fairly new technology,” says Diamond. “They think the robots are superheroes, but they’re not.”

Global markets: United States and France are key markets, but the company is expanding across Europe, as well as Australia, Korea, Japan and China.

Going forward: “If we don’t move faster and work smarter, waste is going to overwhelm our planet. The pressure is on to find creative solutions to process more materials—but the waste and recycling industry hasn’t had the benefit of technology to improve efficiency… until now,” says Eric Camirand, founder and CEO of Waste Robotics.

EDC’s impact: “Most of our projects and sales involve exporting. If EDC wasn’t there, we simply wouldn’t have had been able to achieve the development necessary to grow,” says Diamond. “There’s no way that a company, like Waste Robotics, can take on the risks associated with exporting alone—EDC has been a cornerstone of our success.”

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