How a smart trash can automatically sorts for recycling. Let’s meet Green Creative.

How to choose the good trash can?

Understanding sorting instructions for trash disposal is a bane of modern life. It shouldn’t require a university degree, but the complexity and variance of rules means that it can feel that way.

In 2010, two recently graduated engineers were recruited to fix a sustainable development project that wasn’t working. Beginning in La Défense, Paris’ financial district, they spent days in offices working why highly qualified people were failing to master manual sorting bins.

The two cofounders quickly realized that sorting instructions and not people were to blame. “When we are in front of a sorting bin, we don’t often know which one to use,” says Lucile Noury-Soyer. “Instead of making people feel guilty, we said let’s try to simplify the sorting process,” adds Rémi Gomez.

The smart R3D3 bin

The R3D3 bin is smart enough to recognize, automatically sort and compact cans, disposable cups and plastic bottles. Place the object on the bin’s base – and it will do the rest.

Green Creative devised an innovative sorting technique that makes an initial diagnosis based on weight. Once the compression begins, an algorithm based on height and force determines what type of waste it is sorting.

Next step design. Green Creative wanted a product that looked smart enough for the chicest of offices, and didn’t take up too much space. The product they devised is smaller than competitors’ smart bins, fitting well into corridors and reception areas – just as regular bins would.

Finally, they digitally connected the trash cans so customers are alerted when they’re full. It’s also possible to track how many bottles and cans have been collected.

As well as R3D3, Green Creative has a second product, Flexidry, which can remove packaging from organic waste (or bio-waste or food waste) without water or grinding, using low amounts of energy. In many countries, the food industry, supermarkets and catering companies are required to sort and recover their production waste, unsold products and leftovers. The Flexidry process turns what would otherwise be landfill into something very useful and environmentally friendly: a very clean organic matter that can be extracted to make biogas and bio-fertilizer.

2€ million raised in 2016

The 18-person company has a 1,000-sq. m. production facility, a maintenance unit, a sales/marketing team, and an engineering department. France’s ‘innovative new company’ program (JEI) and Paris Cleantech incubator PRINE mean that Green Creative have been eligible for a variety of grants, subsidies and mentoring support. After completing a first funding round in 2014, they raised €2 million in 2016, which will allow them to expand internationally. They have also signed a partnership agreement in Switzerland and are in advanced negotiations with companies in the United Kingdom and Poland.

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