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Matanya Horowitz’s recycling robots are saving the planet, one Starbucks cup at a time

For founding AMP Robotics, whose robots use machine learning to expertly sort trash from recyclables, Matanya Horowitz is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2020.

Matanya Horowitz’s recycling robots are saving the planet, one Starbucks cup at a time

Matanya Horowitz’s company, AMP Robotics, uses computer vision and machine learning at recycling centers to identify and sort materials twice as fast as humans, extracting a greater value from the recycling stream. More than 50 of its systems have been installed in recycling centers worldwide. AMP Robotics’s technology makes it possible to identify and recycle specific items, such as Starbucks’s recyclable paper coffee cups. “Because we have this robot that doesn’t get tired or lose its focus, we’re able to sort these additional materials at basically no marginal cost to facilities,” says Horowitz, explaining that humans work alongside the robots to help remove larger contaminants that the machines can’t handle (such as pieces of wood). In the past year, the system has learned to recognize more than three dozen new material categories and thousands of new form factors.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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