Founders of recycling startups say the pandemic changed the investment game

For years, startups addressing the recycling crisis labored in relative anonymity. But for those who have stuck with it — or survived the lean times — investors are now rewarding them with growing support, three founders told me this week at TC Sessions: Climate 2022 in Berkeley.

“It’s been very hard to raise in the space, traditionally. I’ve seen that change very much in this past year,” said Miranda Wang, co-founder and CEO of Novoloop, a plastic upcycling startup.

There were several different catalysts behind that change, most of which can be traced to COVID.

“I don’t know if anybody remembers, but for a while there, it was kind of hard to get some toilet paper,” said Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of AMP Robotics, a robotic and AI vision startup that specializes in sorting recyclable materials.

“We saw that demand for toilet paper translating into demand for recycled content, translating into demand for our systems at a time where it was really hard to get people to come into work and people were afraid of touching packaging that may have come from households that had COVID. It was an accelerant for our business.”

COVID supply chain shortages combined with new business models have sparked a surge in investor interest, the panelists said.

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