RoadRunner Recycling buys Compology to scale AI, metering in collection service

Diving Brief:

  • RoadRunner Recycling, a growing technology startup, has acquired Compology, described as “the world’s largest smart waste and recycling metering technology company”. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  • Pittsburgh-based RoadRunner provides collection services through third-party carriers in more than 40 major cities and in all 50 states. The company has seen its workforce double to nearly 600 employees in the past year.
  • San Francisco-based Compology is known for its measurement technology that uses cameras in trash and recycling containers. The company’s 150 million data points it has captured from these devices should help RoadRunner “further improve recycling rates, reduce carbon emissions and enable accurate ESG reporting.”

Overview of the dive:

The continued push around sustainability and recycling reporting goals has created an opening for a new class of technology-driven companies in the waste industry. This agreement is a unique combination of two startups that have focused on artificial intelligence and related technologies to enhance their respective capabilities.

Founded in 2014, RoadRunner works with outside carriers (in vehicles ranging from vans to heavy trucks) to collect material from commercial and industrial customers. While it offers a variety of managed collection services through its platform, the company is also known to have initially focused on curbside collection of curbside recycling. According to RoadRunner, it has now diverted over 300,000 tons of materials from disposal to over 12,000 accounts and helped customers save nearly $50 million on their waste management and recycling services.

Person in jacket and glasses standing in front of bales of recyclables

Graham Rihn, Founder and CEO of RoadRunner

Permission granted by RoadRunner Recycling

The concept has attracted investor interest, most recently with a $70 million Series D funding from BeyondNetZero announced earlier this year. RoadRunner’s total funding at the time was $129.5 million. Founder and CEO Graham Rihn said the investment was instrumental in pursuing the acquisition of Compology as part of its strategic growth plan.

“A key element we identified as part of this plan was the need to use world-class technology to strengthen our data insights. Having a strong balance sheet, which Series D has contributed to, we places us in a strong position to aggressively pursue our strategy and acquire Compology’s world-class waste and recycling counting capabilities and data expertise to enhance our platform,” Rihn said via email. .

Compology, a B Corp founded in 2012, has raised nearly $39 million to date and has been increasingly adopted by well-known waste haulers, local government entities and large commercial clients. Its technology tracks volume levels in large containers, the type of material inside, and the date the container was last serviced. Company employees, including co-founder and CEO Jason Gates, are expected to continue working with RoadRunner. In a statement, Gates described the agreement as “a monumental step towards making cost-effective and sustainable waste management a reality for organizations.”

Man in suit jacket standing with arms crossed

Jason Gates, co-founder and CEO of Compology

Permission granted by Compology

Some of Compology’s customers include private sector carriers who may be competitors of RoadRunner, but Gates said, “We are delighted to continue to partner with all of Compology’s customers and are committed to continuing to provide the excellent services they are used to” in the future.

Compology was also working in other areas such as waste recycling and C&D recycling, which are not a current priority for RoadRunner. Rihn said those customers will still be supported and “those other areas will be on our radar” for future opportunities.

As for what the deal will mean for RoadRunner customers, the company did not say whether Compology’s technology will offer new price or service opportunities. Overall, Rihn said the agreement “will create the most technologically advanced, comprehensive and sustainable waste management solution” for customers. RoadRunner has confirmed its own tech offerings previously did not include proprietary camera or metering capabilities.

“While RoadRunner, to date, uses industry and customer specific data along with proprietary algorithms to predict service needs, the addition of Compology’s waste counting technology allows us to be even more accurate, to monitor and make changes in near real-time and also allows us to not only capture missed pick-up events, but also to monitor for contamination,” Rihn said.

Investment in tech-focused waste management companies has been active in recent years, as evidenced by examples such as Trash Warrior which launched its own A-series tower announced this week, Rubicon Technologies went public in August and Recycle Track Systems closed a Series C funding round last year.

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