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RoadRunner Recycling, a data-driven waste management platform that helps businesses divert their junk away from landfill sites, has raised $70 million in a series D round of funding from General Atlantic’s new climate investment venture BeyondNetZero.
The global climate catastrophe represents a major dilemma for businesses across the industrial spectrum, with companies falling under increasing pressure and scrutiny to address their environmental impact. But achieving this is often easier said than done, particularly for larger companies that operate across multiple locations, vendors, and systems. This is a problem that RoadRunner is setting out to solve.
“We solve the operational inefficiencies that most often come with traditional waste and recycling management across large organizations,” RoadRunner founder and CEO Graham Rihn told VentureBeat. “Enterprises commonly lack time and resources to appropriately manage day-to-day waste and recycling operation for their portfolio, making it virtually impossible to recognize opportunities to reduce expenses and advance ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) efforts.”
Big data insights
Companies such as multinational manufacturer Avery Dennison use RoadRunner to manage their daily waste and recycling programs. Built on machine learning, the RoadRunner platform can predict the volumes of materials that are generated by different industries, and what containers will most efficiently organize the estimated waste for recycling.
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In terms of the type of data that RoadRunner feeds into its ML algorithms, well, this includes anything from the volume, industry-type, and location data, to the client’s proximity to other parties (e.g., customers, recycling outlets, landfills).
“We built prediction models that recommend the most efficient outcome for each customer as it relates to lowering costs and increasing recycling as part of their waste management program,” Rihn explained. “Our recommendations are tailored to each customer location, but are built and automated to scale nationally across a number of locations.”
As with any good machine learning algorithm, RoadRunner claims to improve over time as more data is added to the mix, so it can compare current and historical outcomes to make better recommendations.
Additionally, RoadRunner can also create customized routing for partner transportation partners, so that materials that need to be collected and recycled are transported in the most efficient way — this is designed to encourage companies to recycle by reducing costs. So clean, fully separated (i.e. not contaminated) materials will be collected by the closest drivers and dropped off at the nearest recycling facility.
“This method allows RoadRunner to operate as an asset-light organization — we don’t own trucks — and bypass the environmental and monetary costs of the traditional waste hauling process,” Rihn added.
So what, exactly, is RoadRunner up against — what are the incumbent solutions it’s looking to replace?
“Before RoadRunner, a business would contract with a solid waste company where around 95% of their materials go to the landfill, because of traditional hauling and material separating inefficiencies — meaning, the legacy customer experience is offline,” Rihn explained. “When the business signs on with RoadRunner, we become their materials management partner, onboarding existing incumbent solid waste companies while implementing flexible recycling options customized to fit their business.”
Founded out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2014, RoadRunner had previously raised around $60 million, and with another $70 million in the bank, the company is well-financed to capitalize on the growing demand for technology that helps companies cut their waste — with data serving as a communal thread. For example, just last month carbon management company Sweep raised a $22 million round of funding, with a view toward enabling large companies to lower their carbon footprints through big data insights.
“We believe that this next stage of growth will put RoadRunner on a course to achieve its vision of propelling the entire waste industry toward enduring change that protects our planet and our futures,” Rihn said.
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