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Ventures focused on circular economy advances haven’t historically represented a sexy funding category, but December and early January brought the closing of two high-profile investment infusions: $55 million for AMP Robotics, which is using artificial intelligence to reinvent recycling infrastructure, and $25 million for TerraCycle’s Loop venture, which combines e-commerce with reusable containers.
Indeed, if you poke deeper into developments during the long and winding road that was 2020, it appears more investors are becoming willing to kick the tires (so to speak) when it comes to companies focused on turning someone else’s waste into a saleable product that keeps said waste from winding up in a landfill.
And one category that has received renewed attention in the past three months: Companies that turn tires no longer road-ready into materials that can be reused in everything from flooring to modified asphalt to artificial turf and even brand-new tires. While it’s still technically difficult to reclaim tires and put that material back into rotation in the same form as the original because of performance and safety considerations, plenty of companies are innovating to upcycle old tires into other materials — and a well-established ecosystem of recycling partners from which they can buy.