Waste management startups are springing up like daises and bringing new innovative ways and startup ideas to better manage and recycle waste.
We are all aware that waste can be an uncompromising and destructive burden on society if not addressed effectively.
Poor waste management contributes greatly to greenhouse emissions, which exacerbates the climate crisis we are currently experiencing.
Traditional methods of waste disposal are expensive and disregard valuable resources that can be reclaimed from the waste for future use.
Thankfully, waste management is an active global concern, and technology has opened new methods to mitigate the negative effects of bad waste management practices.
We took a deep dive into waste management startups and discovered a host of companies that are changing the concept of waste management to be circular and sustainable in the long term.
What we discovered is truly innovative and gives hope for a promising future.
Let’s jump right in!
Waste Management and Recycling: Market Overview
In 2022, the waste management market had a value of USD 1,293.70 billion on a global scale. Experts predict that between 2024 and 2030, it is projected to have a yearly growth rate of 5.4%.a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%.
East Asia generates about one-quarter of the world’s waste, while waste generation is growing the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Despite representing just 16% of the world’s population, high-income countries are responsible for producing more than one-third of the world’s waste.
There is rising global awareness regarding proper waste disposal to maintain animal and human health. This awareness resulted in the emergence of various disposal methods and techniques.
Timely waste disposal or recycling is essential to process the large quantities of dangerous compounds, such as metals and salts, in the waste.
High operating costs and procurement of waste management solutions are expected to affect the profitability of waste management companies.
In addition, the industry is labor-intensive and costly, and the steady increases in fuel prices have elevated the cost of transportation of waste.
Waste Collection Segment of the Market
The waste collection segment accounted for over 62.0% share in 2022, which included:
- Segregation of waste.
- Loading and unloading of waste.
- Identify an appropriate location and arrange it for the purpose of storing waste, ensuring that it is at a reasonable distance from where the waste is produced.
- Maintenance of the waste.
- Cleaning and maintenance of these storage areas.
Hazardous waste from commercial and industrial premises must be transported with proper transport vehicles with a required level of protection.
Waste that is not harmful can be taken directly to the recycling plant or disposed of at the landfill site.
The Waste Disposal Segment
The disposal segment is estimated to expand to about 5.9% over the forecast period. The various methods of disposal are:
- Open dumping
Incineration facilities offer a solution to the problem of overflowing landfills by reducing the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of. Moreover, these facilities have the added benefit of generating energy, which can be used to produce heat and electricity.
The amount of waste volume reduction achieved through incineration may vary slightly depending on the extent to which metals are recovered from the waste ash for recycling.
It is mandatory to manage medical waste through proper waste management techniques to avoid spreading infections and diseases.
There was a rise in the production of biomedical waste from 2020 to 2021, primarily due to the increased diagnostic procedures and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
As a result of this surge in waste production, coupled with strict government regulations and illegal dumping, the need for waste management services in North America is expected to increase.
Additionally, rapid technological advancements such as PET bottle recycling technology are expected to have a positive impact in North America.
Watch this video by CNBC on the costs of waste disposal in the United States:
Waste Management Challenges
Managing solid waste is a problem that affects people all over the world. Poorly managed waste typically contributes to:
- Contaminating the world’s oceans
- Contaminating fresh water sources and groundwater
- Clogging drains and causing flooding
- Transmitting diseases
- Increasing respiratory problems from the burning of waste
- Causing harm to animals that unknowingly consume waste
- Affecting economic development, especially tourism
Unmanaged and improperly managed waste requires urgent action at all levels of society as they expedite the release of greenhouse emissions.
The waste management scenarios of nations tend to undergo significant transformations as they progress from low-income to middle and high-income categories.
This makes waste collection and the procuring of land for treatment and disposal increasingly difficult.
In low-income countries, solid waste management is the single highest budget item for many local municipalities where it comprises nearly 20% of municipal budgets.
In middle-income countries, this is almost halved at above 10% of municipal budgets, while it accounts for about 4% in high-income countries.
Waste operations compete for funding with other priorities like clean water and other utilities such as education and health care. Waste management is often restricted by limited resources and is plagued with limited capacity for planning, management, and monitoring.
These factors cause sustainable waste management to be a burden for economic development. Effective Solid waste management remains the biggest challenge for all municipalities.
Global Waste Disposal Challenges
Traditionally, the most used technologies for treating and valorizing organic waste are composting and anaerobic digestion. The global generation of organic solid waste is dramatically increasing each year.
Organic waste, which contains valuable proteins, minerals, and sugars, is typically burned or discarded in landfills. However, it could be utilized as substrates or raw materials in other processes.
Plastic waste disposal is a major global environmental problem. Europe, USA, and Japan produce approximately 50 million tons of plastic waste on an annual basis.
Disposal of plastic waste causes environmental pollution, which negatively impacts human health due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s important to note that most degradable plastics are not good for the environment. This includes many biobased or “biodegradable” packaging choices.
Socio-cultural, economic, legal, political, and environmental factors and available resources are the main issues affecting municipal solid waste management in all countries.
12 Innovative Waste Management Startups in 2024
Here is an invigorating list of 12 waste management startups that are making a huge difference in how waste is managed:
1. Zaak Technologies
Zaak Technologies is an eco-innovative startup company that treats and upcycles industrial by-products and delivers environmentally sustainable building materials to the construction sector.
Location: Grossbeeren, Germany
The technology used: Zaak Technologies has developed a unique approach to transforming coal combustion residuals, such as fly ash generated by thermal power stations, into Lypors – a superior quality, artificial sand material specifically crafted for usage in the construction industry.
Lypors stand out due to their exceptional features, such as being lightweight, having excellent thermal insulation properties, and being of high quality.
Lasso formerly known as ReCircle, is a startup recycling company that aims to make all products fully recyclable from waste recovery.
Their motivation stems from a common problem that Lasso identified with some recycling items, like oily plastic containers, which either waste a lot of water or are unmanageable for users and recycling plants, as they often lack the appropriate recycling technologies.
Location: London, England
Technology used: Lasso has engineered an innovative appliance that provides a fully enclosed system for recycling. This smart appliance sorts different types of recyclables, such as glass, metal, and plastic, and proceeds to wash and grind them down to pure, usable materials.
The resulting recycled materials are then sold back to the original manufacturer, who can utilize them to produce new products. Both households and businesses can take advantage of this appliance.
Electrobac is an e-waste startup with the objective of extending the lifecycle and simplifying the disposal of used electronic devices across Canada.
They have become a dynamic and innovative waste management startup company in the field of green technology.
Location: Montréal, Canada
Technology used: The core of Electrobac e-waste collection technology is the e-waste recycling smart bin. E-waste deposited into the 270 e-waste recycling waste recovery smart bins in busy malls, office buildings, and universities around Ontario and Quebec is either refurbished or recycled.
You can dispose of various small electronics and their components, such as cables, chargers, smartphones, MP3 players, headphones, cameras, tablets, USBs, memory cards, and more, in the e-waste collection bins.
Many electronic devices contain plastic and metal that can be recycled and repurposed to manufacture new items. By adopting this approach towards waste management, we can decrease the need for mining raw materials and advance environmental sustainability.
4. RoadRunner Recycling
RoadRunner Recycling is one of the top startup waste management companies that provide commercial waste management services to help businesses generate savings on their recurring waste costs.
Location: Pittsburgh, U.S.
Technology used: RoadRunner Technologies offers customized transportation solutions to businesses aimed at optimizing their routes, waste recovery, and recycling collection practices.
By leveraging innovative logistics and clean technology, they help their clients achieve up to 20% reduction in their monthly recycling and waste management expenses.
The company will suggest appropriate containers depending on the type of waste produced by the industry. The service provider will collect the contents from the containers and deliver them to a recycling plant at a schedule that is specifically tailored to meet the individual needs of each business.
Recleim, in partnership with German company Adelman Umwelt GMBH, is a startup that offers innovative recycling technologies for large appliances that incorporates a closed-loop system.
They work with companies, and large household appliances like refrigerators are reduced to small pellets that are sorted into different materials.
Recleim is the first and only company in North America with the rights to Adelman’s technology.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Technology used: Recleim’s closed-loop system recycling technology makes it possible to recycle and de-manufacture large appliances, which is a resource recovery clean technology used in some European countries that exceed EPA standards.
Resourcify embraces its vision to enable a zero-waste future powered by the advancements of technology.
The company has pledged to establish fresh benchmarks in waste management and recycling and aid organizations in achieving sustainability goals.
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Technology used: Resourcify uses an all-in-one waste management and recycling platform that digitizes the entire waste management process, and optimization is supported by new-found digital data transparency.
This is designed to help numerous industries solve their day-to-day efficiency and cost challenges, as well as empower them with the tools they need to steer their organization toward zero waste.
7. Recycling Technologies Limited
Recycling Technologies Limited is a startup that specializes in recycling technology. They have developed a modular recycling system that can be integrated into existing waste sites worldwide.
This company is connecting the waste and petrochemical sectors to establish a circular economy, allowing for the uninterrupted recycling of plastic.
Location: Swindon, England
Technology used: The company employs a chemical recycling technique that transforms plastic waste into feedstock, suitable for manufacturing fresh plastic products.
This process ensures the recycling of plastic from old materials and can be easily produced in large quantities, thereby helping to address the negative impact of plastic waste on the environment.
Adding the technology recycles plastic at waste sites and prevents it from reaching landfills, oceans, and open land. Furthermore, the technology can help companies reduce costs for raw materials.
Pretred, a startup, is dedicated to repurposing waste tires and plastics by transforming them into blocks and barriers that can be used in various industrial applications. This innovative approach enables the construction industry to reduce its reliance on concrete and instead make use of waste materials. The construction blocks are designed with yellow or red reflectors and painted safety lines and are available in a range of colors to suit different requirements.
Location: Aurora, Colorado, U.S.
Technology used: Pretred employs closed-loop recycling technologies to create high-quality blocks and barriers that require less maintenance than concrete, which translates to being cost-effective for governments and construction companies alike.
Each Pretred barrier uses 70 waste tires per barrier and contains 95% recycled materials.
9. Waste Resource Technologies
Waste Resource Technologies (WRT) primarily focuses on trash, recycling, and organics collection services. The company provides different colored containers for domestic sorting of trash as well as commercial collection services.
This startup aims to promote sustainable agriculture and alternative energy through its collection and waste sorting services.
They offer these services in various locations in Southern California and several Hawaiian Islands, making the recycling process more efficient.
Location: Newport Beach, U.S.
Technology used: WRT is a waste management company that works with various businesses to collect their waste. They have partnerships with other clean technology companies that specialize in different materials and technologies.
Through these collaborations, WRT is able to convert waste into sustainable resources such as natural soil amendments, baseload power, and natural gas.
Agricycle is a new company that focuses on converting agricultural byproducts and food waste into natural and organic consumer packaged goods brands, with the aim of reducing waste and salvaging valuable resources.
Field Better is powered by Agricycle, which works with a network of over 40,000 smallholder farmers all over the world.
Agricycle transforms food waste and agricultural byproducts across the world into all-natural and organic CPG brands sold in the U.S.
Location: Milwaukee, U.S.
Technology used: Agricycle is a company that aims to help impoverished rural communities facing underemployment and challenges like unreliable electricity.
They provide training on food handling safety and offer passive solar dehydrators to preserve fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.
The dehydrated produce is then purchased by Agricycle from the rural communities and sold to markets and brands that use them as ingredients in various consumer goods, including healthy snacks.
Enevo is a Waste Analytics Technology startup founded by veterans in the wireless and telecom industry.
The company boasts a 40% average reduction in dumpster collections with data-driven re-scheduling and has an estimated 200 billion sensor measurements recorded to date.
Over time and after various ownership structures with outside investors, Enevo is now proudly a 100% employee-owned company.
Location: Espoo, Finland
Technology used: Enevo provides a cloud-based software platform and sensor portfolio to waste services companies, property managers, haulers, campus environments, cities, and municipalities. This helps them to better understand their waste-related operations.
The company provides the right tools to collect and analyze detailed data from waste containers. This enables correct actions for controlling waste-related operations better and improves recycling rates as well as environmental impact.
Rubicon is one of the best waste management startups. They provide digital waste and recycling solutions software that offers smart garbage and recycling solutions to businesses and the government.
Firmly established in the U.S. and deployed in more than 80 cities, the company is actively engaging with businesses, haulers, and cities around the world to advance efforts to end waste.
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Technology used: Rubicon utilizes a software platform that equips businesses, cities, and haulers with tools to improve operations, meet sustainability goals, and end waste.
Solutions include the development of proprietary technology in Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
In addition, there is a Rubicon technology license agreement with Odakyu Group in Japan to move them towards a circular economy solution.
Waste management comes in different forms. Thanks to advances in digital technology, we are better equipped to monitor and manage disposal and recycling initiatives.
Recycling waste to reclaim materials for further use is perhaps one of the most viable ways to bolster a circular economy. It also reduces greenhouse emissions while preserving the environment.
Plastic is an essential commodity across the globe but is seen as a curse on society. This is largely due to poor waste management, which, as we are learning, is being turned around.
The survival and longevity of our planet pivot on ethical and sustainable waste management practices.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the common methods of waste disposal?
The commonly practiced methods for solid waste management are bio-processing, thermal processing, and sanitary landfills.
• Bio-processing includes aerobic composting and anaerobic composting. Both processes utilize bacteria.
• Thermal methods include incineration and pyrolysis which exposes compounds to high temperatures to speed up thermal decomposition.
• Sanitary landfill is generally used to dispose of the final compounds from the biological and thermal waste processes.
What materials can be recycled?
Waste management can recycle most types of materials, including paper, metal, plastic, glass, food waste, and electronic equipment. In addition, new technologies now make it possible to recover or recycle metals from end-of-life batteries. Plastic waste recovered from our oceans and waterways is repurposed and recycled within a circular economy.
What are the future trends in waste management?
Unfolding and future trends in waste management include increased recycling and reuse. Technology management systems are being incorporated into waste management to improve waste collection, sorting, and recycling. Waste reduction is crucial and involves the use of reusable materials, reducing packaging in products, and adopting green building standards. Ultimately, transitioning to a circular economy and implementing new technologies will improve waste management processes in the future.
Grand View Research: Global Waste Management Market
The World Bank: Here’s what everyone should know about waste
The World Bank: WHAT A WASTE 2.0