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Longmont company awarded EPA grant for trash cleanup robot

CleanRobotics created TrashBot which sorts waste with 95% accuracy.
TrashBot is an artificially intelligent robot that sorts waste into appropriate categories such as compost, recycling and trash

Have you ever approached waste receptacles only to be confused if your item should be recycled, composted or thrown in the trash? The CEO of CleanRobotics encountered the same frustration and has created a robot to help — a robot that earned the company a $400,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

CEO Charles Yhap, was ready to dispose of his trash at a local store. He approached the disposal area, only to be frustrated that he was sure which bin his trash should be discarded. He did his best but jumped into creating a robot to help others solve the problem in 2015 and Trashbot was born.

“TrashBot is a smart recycling bin that sorts waste at the point of disposal,” the Longmont company’s website states. 

The bin uses artificial intelligence to scan the type of waste put into the bin and sorts it based on the parameters set by the facility using it. For example, an airport could set the bin up to sort compostable materials, recyclables and trash, and the bin will assign items to the appropriate bin. 

According to Frank Fimbres, senior marketing lead for CleanRobotics, TrashBot sorts items with 95% accuracy while also ensuring that contaminated items do not end up in recycling or compost bins. 

TrashBot also collects data on the waste as it goes through its system, allowing businesses to identify ways they can improve their environmental impact. 

On Wednesday, the EPA announced a list of eight small businesses nationwide that received a total of $3,169,239 to further develop and commercialize their environmental technologies.

CleanRobotics was one of the eight small businesses to receive the award. The company was awarded $400,000. 

“Companies like CleanRobotics are demonstrating true leadership in developing innovative products that improve the environment and quality of life in our communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator K.C. Becker.  “The commercialization of the company’s trash sorting and auditing system will enhance recycling efforts across a wide range of applications and customers.”

Fimbres said the money will be used to incentivize large commercial businesses such as airports, civic centers and stadiums to use TrashBots to capture more waste.

TrashBot is currently in the manufacturing phase of its development.

“We are very excited about it (the grant) … Now getting this help from the EPA to leverage the impact of TrashBots for any new customer which means being able to double the amount of trash being perceived by TrashBot. It will maximize everything, not only for TrashBot but also for how waste is captured,” Fimbres said.