Advances in plastic recovery address the global plastic pollution crisis. Advanced or chemical recycling technologies break down plastic waste into its constituent components and convert them into new products. This approach reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and the environment while ensuring high material quality. Further, biodegradable and compostable plastics break down naturally and have a lower impact on the environment. These materials are used in a range of applications, from packaging to consumer goods. The adoption of circular economy principles also encourages the use of recovered materials to reduce waste and conserve resources. As technology continues to evolve, further innovations in this area are likely to emerge, leading to new and more effective methods of plastic recovery, upcycling, and recycling. Let’s now dive into 20 innovative plastic recovery startups to watch in 2024 that are advancing these technologies and much more!
20 Top Plastic Recovery Startups to Watch (2024)
- Repla – Bacteria-based Impure Plastic Degradation
- Keep Sea Blue – Seaside Plastic Waste Recovery
- Wastemy – Pyrolysis-based Local Plastic Recovery
- EAPS – Plastic Bottle Sorting Machine
- Envirobotics – – Automated Solid Waste Collection
- PLAEX – Automatic Waste Sorting Bins
- PlasticApp – Waste Sorting Gamification
- Kadra Nova – At-home Plastic Bottle Shredding Device
- ReCover – Sustainable Lidding Film Design
- SortFlow – AI-driven Waste Sorting Mapping
- Reconnai – AI-based Plastic Sorting
- Circulyzer – Float Separation System
- Inobus – AI-based Waste Disposal
- ReVentas – Polyethylene & Polypropylene Decontamination
- Weapon X – Plastic Recycling Agent
- R3Polska – Smart Reverse Vending Machines
- Blend Energy – Waste-to-Energy
- Birch Biosciences – Engineered Enzymes
- Plas’tri – Easy-to-Use Plastic Scanner
- PolyPerception – AI-powered Waste Flow Monitoring
Global Startup Heat Map highlights 10 Plastic Recovery Startups to Watch in 2023
Through the Big Data & Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering over 3 790 000+ startups & scaleups globally, we identified 571 plastic recovery startups. The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the 20 manufacturing startups you should watch in 2024 as well as the geo-distribution of all plastic recovery startups & scaleups we analyzed for this research.
Based on the heat map, we see high startup activity in the UK and the USA, followed by India. These plastic recovery startups work on solutions ranging from plastic sorting systems to waste decontamination and chemical recycling to automated recycling.
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As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant technologies and industry trends quickly & exhaustively. Based on the data from the platform, the Top 5 Plastic Recovery Startup Hubs are in New York, London, Los Angeles, Bangalore & Berlin. The 20 hand-picked startups highlighted in this report are chosen from all over the world and develop solutions for advanced plastic recycling, waste-to-energy (WTE), rapid plastic sorting, waste flow monitoring, and more.
Meet 20 Plastic Recovery Startups to Watch (2024)
Repla enables Bacteria-based Impure Plastic Degradation
South Korean startup Repla increases the purity of plastic waste by utilizing its bacteria-based plastic-degrading technology. The process involves polymer oxidation through microbial enzymes, depolymerization of plastics into hydrocarbons with low molecular weight, followed by reseparation into CO2 and H2O through lipid metabolism. BioTank is the startup’s pre-treatment solution that produces polypropylene (PP) close to 100% purity by decomposing certain plastic kinds.
PREADER PuryChecker tests each sample’s composition of targeted and foreign materials by distinguishing plastic flakes. When the flakes are put into the device, near-infrared (NIR) sensors check their spectrum, and then the startup’s software, Plastic Nara, receives spectral information from the sensor and determines the material’s kind, thus verifying the quality of the plastic. Additionally, PREADER plaSCAN is a portable scanner that identifies plastic materials like PP, PE, PET, PVC, and PLA, among others. This aids in sorting plastic waste efficiently.
Keep Sea Blue simplifies Seaside Plastic Waste Recovery
Greek startup Keep Sea Blue recovers plastic waste before it enters the sea and transforms it into a sustainable alternative to virgin plastic. The startup collects plastic from at-risk Mediterranean areas within 10 km of the coastline. It then processes the collected plastic into Recovered Seaside Plastic. It is available in HDPE, LDPE, and PET forms.
Keep Sea Blue’s certification program and blockchain platform provide transparency and traceability across the plastics value chain. It connects collectors, recyclers, manufacturers, and brands. This enables monitoring of the circular journey of seaside plastics and certifies materials, products, and supply chain stakeholders.
Wastemy offers Pyrolysis-based Local Plastic Recovery
German startup Wastemy enables plastic recovery by transforming plastics into valuable resources through its low-temperature pyrolysis technology. This process effectively recovers plastics that would otherwise be difficult to recycle, converting them into high-energy gas and liquid. These outputs are then refined into valuable chemicals and fuels, such as ethylene, propylene, aromatics, diesel, and gasoline.
By integrating biomass into the process, Wastemy enhances the yields and quality of the products obtained from plastic waste. Its AI system optimizes the pyrolysis parameters, ensuring efficient recovery and transformation of plastics. The technology offers multiple refining scenarios, allowing for the production of a variety of end products, thereby maximizing the utility of recovered plastics. Moreover, Wastemy offers pyrolysis units for areas with limited waste production and no dedicated logistics chain.
EAPS manufactures a Plastic Bottle Sorting Machine
EAPS is a startup from South Korea that produces a plastic bottle sorting machine, Mo-EZ. Users just need to feed the plastic bottles into the machine. It utilizes a spectrum sensor that processes around 70 bottles per minute. It operates faster than traditional image sensors, enhancing the efficiency of waste sorting.
Mo-EZ employs a multiple-input method, allowing several items to be processed simultaneously. Moreover, it eliminates the need for users to remove labels or clean items meticulously before recycling. EAPS thus makes plastic bottle disposal and recycling convenient, encouraging more people to participate.
Envirobotics advances Automated Solid Waste Collection
Indian startup Envirobotics develops robotic solutions for environmental cleaning and waste management. Its product, ENVIROBO, is a robotic device equipped with AI to collect solid waste from sewers and stormwater drains. This robot features a self-unloading receptacle and requires no human intervention. It is capable of collecting sub-surface floating waste.
Moreover, it operates effectively in both low stream flow and heavy inflows, making it highly efficient in recovering plastics from water bodies. Its other product, ENVIROBOTI, is a robotic device designed to clean confined spaces like manholes and pits. This robot operates autonomously, eliminating the need for human presence in hazardous environments. Thus, ENVIROBOTI effectively collects plastic waste that would otherwise be difficult to access.
PLAEX manufactures Automatic Waste Sorting Bins
PLAEX is a Dutch startup that promotes smart waste management with its products. Garby is a smart bin that utilizes AI, machine learning, and a proprietary mechanical design to sort waste at the source. This ensures high material purity and enhances recyclability. It also feeds data to an online dashboard for sustainability impact tracking.
Garcia, another product, is a smart waste identification device that educates users on proper waste disposal, using AI to guide waste sorting. This device, ideal for large facilities, reduces cleaning costs and improves waste disposal accuracy. Lastly, Garfill is a garbage fill sensor that monitors bin fill levels, transmitting data for efficient waste pickups.
PlasticApp allows Waste Sorting Gamification
Based out of France, PlasticApp is an eco-friendly mobile game that transforms waste sorting into an engaging and rewarding activity. The game allows players to scan recyclable products near sorting bins to accumulate PLC Climate Fight Points, fostering environmental responsibility.
Players can participate in tournaments, personalize their avatars, and use an interactive map to locate recycling bins, making waste management fun and interactive. Players earn ERC20 Sort & Earn Tokens for in-game purchases or buying eco-friendly products. PlasticApp thus combines gaming with environmental activism, offering a solution to tackle litter
Kadra Nova makes an At-home Plastic Bottle Shredding Device
Based out of Tunisia, Kadra Nova is a startup that develops an at-home plastic bottle recycling device, KN-Eco. The users need to place their plastic waste into the drawer of the machine and push it to close and it shreds the plastic waste. The startup then collects this treated plastic waste from the users and sends it back to the manufacturers so that it can be recycled/upcycled into new products.
Kadra Nova thus ensures that these materials are ready for recycling, reducing the likelihood of them ending up as waste. The integration of blockchain technology in the system adds transparency and traceability to the recycling process. Additionally, the use of Biotecoin as a reward mechanism incentivizes users to participate actively in plastic recovery.
ReCover innovates a Sustainable Lidding Film Design
ReCover is a UK-based startup that enhances the recyclability of lidding films. Its technology allows lidding films to remain attached to trays for recycling. ReCover is a custom-made split laminate of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), designed to be a mono PET box when the tray and film are both PET.
The bottom layer of ReCover is engineered to maximize opening within the tray’s inner profile, welded permanently to thermoformed mono-apet or pre-formed aPET or cPET trays. Upon opening, the top layer separates from the bottom layer along designed opening lines, facilitating easy access to the contents. A small lip of film remains attached to the tray’s flange, allowing the lidding film to be reclosed.
SortFlow enhances AI-driven Waste Sorting Mapping
SortFlow is a UK-based startup that develops a digital twin for recycling plants, enhancing solid waste management. Its product SortFlow AI Mapper maps waste sorting processes using live data from AI vision systems and optical sorters. It unifies data from various capture points in the recycling process into a digital twin.
The twin compares real performance against baseline performance in material recovery facilities (MRF). This comparison allows plant operators to understand and optimize their sorting process more effectively. Thus leading to better consistency and efficiency in sorting and recovering plastics from the waste stream.
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Reconnai promotes AI-based Plastic Sorting
Japanese startup Reconnai develops a platform for consumers, producers, and governments to improve waste separation and collection. The startup’s AI-based mobile app lets users take pictures to provide them with proper sorting instructions to simplify the recycling process. The app also integrates local sorting rules and collection site information. Further, Reconnai’s platform lets business-to-business (B2B) sponsors reward users with points or cashback for responsible waste disposal and promote eco-friendly behavior.
Circulyzer creates a Float Separation System
Circulyzer is an Austrian startup that manufactures and installs plants for the wet mechanical processing of post-consumer plastics and related waste. The startup’s separation and washing unit features a centrifugal force separator (CFS) that achieves high material purity and recovery. The separation unit does not contain rotating or moving parts and handles up to 30 cubic meters or 9 tons per hour. This system enables the recovery and recycling of post-consumer plastics from heavily contaminated and heterogeneous waste fractions.
Inobus enables AI-based Waste Disposal
South Korean startup Inobus creates an AI-powered automatic sorting machine for transparent plastic bottle recycling. Its 24-hour unattended system, Ssam Re-PET, separates PET bottles along with an automatic compression system that enables large-capacity PET bottle collection. Moreover, it leverages big data to provide a real-time dashboard that displays eight types of metrics for easy operation monitoring. This solution also facilitates Inobus’s collection and transportation of waste PET bottles to transform them into high-quality raw materials.
ReVentas advances Polyethylene & Polypropylene Decontamination
ReVentas is a UK-based startup that separates and purifies plastic polymers into a virgin-like resin. The startup’s patented technology separates polyethylene and polypropylene from contaminants and rejuvenates the properties of the plastic. The process also removes all odor and color from the polymers and converts them into a new product for applications in other industries.
ReVentas’ approach eliminates the need for large petrochemical facilities, reduces the capital cost of recycling infrastructure, and enables scalable recycling solutions. This energy-efficient technology decreases the environmental footprint of recycling and outperforms traditional petrochemical plastic manufacturing methods in sustainability.
Weapon X develops a Plastic Recycling Agent
US-based startup Weapon X creates a recycling solution that combines, grinds, and reforms various plastics. The startup’s patent-pending plastic recycling agent processes plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC-U) into chips for manufacturing new products.
Besides, it accepts all forms of plastics irrespective of shape or type, unlike most other processing techniques. Moreover, the solution features adjustable strength to match product materials and also reduces CO2 emissions. In this way, Weapon X facilitates sustainable production and waste reduction to promote a circular economy.
R3Polska manufactures Smart Reverse Vending Machines
Polish startup R3Polska creates reverse vending machines to recover, clean, and segregate waste plastic material. Its recyclomat is a smart machine that collects, compacts, and segregates disposable drink containers using an internal EAN code database of PET and ALU containers.
The machine also features a central module to manage and control the state of recyclomats, measure their capacities, and provide remote technical assistance. Additionally, its motivation module provides incentives in the form of points for every item returned. R3Polska’s device provides customers with promotional or educational information to increase customer engagement and promote waste recycling.
Blend Energy advances Waste-to-Energy
Blend Energy is an Israeli startup that makes an eco-friendly solution for plastic waste processing by producing electricity with carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. Its solution catalytically decomposes mixed plastic waste, including PVC and PET plastics, and incorporates open-source in-house automation. Blend Energr’s system features an integrated plastic shredder, distillation unit, heating system recovery, and a unique reactor design. Moreover, the plastic waste recovery process generates an LPG-like gas that is safe to store and produce electricity.
Birch Biosciences creates Engineered Enzymes
US-based startup Birch Biosciences engineers enzymes for plastic recycling by utilizing synthetic biology and machine learning. The startup’s proprietary platform combines AI, bioinformatics, and high-throughput screening to engineer high-performance enzymes for use in industrial-scale plastic recycling. Moreover, its bio-enzymatic process is cost-effective, high-yielding, and greatly reduces CO2 emissions associated with plastic recycling. The recycling process thus deconstructs waste materials and produces virgin-like plastics in a natural and efficient manner compared to conventional recycling methods.
Plas’tri develops offers an Easy-to-Use Plastic Scanner
French startup Plas’tri develops an intelligent portable scanner that identifies different plastic polymers. The scanner uses near-infrared spectroscopy to analyze signals that identify and display the names of plastics. It operates for eight hours on a single charge and removes the conventional recognition processes of folding, touching, or burning plastics. The device simplifies waste sorting for personnel at facilities as it only requires pressing the trigger to correctly identify waste. Moreover, Plas’tri’s solution reduces the number of recoverable plastics that are often incorrectly discarded at waste sorting facilities.
PolyPerception simplifies Waste Flow Monitoring
Belgian startup PolyPerception provides AI-powered waste flow monitoring for recyclers and plastic material recovery facilities. The startup’s system combines computer vision and AI to accurately identify, sort, and separate various plastic waste types.
A fully customizable dashboard shows waste management performance and allows waste facility operators to make data-driven decisions in real time. It also features real-time auditing through continuous data sharing to build trust and confidence with external stakeholders and authorities. By optimizing the plastics recycling process, PolyPerception boosts efficiency and compliance while creating a more sustainable closed-loop system.
Discover All Emerging CleanTech Startups
The CleanTech startups showcased in this report are only a small sample of all startups we identified through our data-driven startup scouting approach. Download our free CleanTech Innovation Report for a broad overview of the industry or get in touch for quick & exhaustive research on the latest technologies & emerging solutions that will impact your company in 2024!