RecycleSmart raises $1.15m to address Australia’s waste management problem

RecycleSmart raises $1.15m to address Australia’s waste management problem

Credit: Supplied

A Sydney-based environmental service company that recycles overlooked rubbish has secured $1.15 million via equity crowdfunding platform Birchal, giving it the firepower to accelerate nationwide expansion plans within a year of a previous $1 million raise

Founded in 2019 by Giorgio Baracchi and Marco Prayer, RecycleSmart collects items that typically can’t be placed in yellow council bins and recycles or repurposes them, including batteries, soft plastics, coffee pods, blister packs, vapes, polystyrene, electronics, and clothes. The platform provides a doorstep collection service, dubbed the Power Pickup, and also gives customers data and insights into their collected recyclables.

Since launching a business-to-business (B2) offering just under a year ago, almost 800 companies have registered their interest, including Canva, Google, John Holland, Dolby Australia and WeWork. RecycleSmart has also partnered with councils, like Sydney’s Randwick City Council, to provide subsidised, regular collections.

Over the last 12 months, the company – which operates in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - says it has doubled its customer numbers, revenue and valuation.

The Birchal equity crowdfunding raise saw 1,014 investors back the startup.

“In the first 48 hours of the campaign going live on Birchal, 500 expressions of interest were lodged, making it the fastest start to a crowdfund on the platform this year,” he said.

“What delighted us most was that our customers were some of our strongest supporters. As the only service that provides traceability, transparency, and round-the-clock reporting for a reasonable price, we know how important we are to them.”

“Through our partners, soft plastics will be shredded and converted to feedstock oil. We donate clothes and textiles in sellable condition to the Australian Red Cross or other charities and repurpose and recycle if they’re not. Valuable materials are extracted from e-waste. Polystyrene is granulated and pelletised to be transformed into raw material that can be used to make park benches, skirting boards, and even bee hives. We make sure every item has a second life.”

Earlier this month, the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council told a Senate inquiry that in 2023 more than 1,000 battery-related fires were reported in the waste and recycling sector nationwide, averaging almost three a day. This was primarily caused by improper battery disposal of lithium-ion batteries.

In 2022, Re.group, an Australian-owned recycling company, had its Canberra facility burnt down. It also reported it had two fires at facility in Dandenong, Victoria over the past six months, each of which had cost the company $250,000.

The Federal Government’s 2025 National Packaging targets have four main objects, those being: 100 per cent of packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable, 70 per cent of plastic packaging being recycled or composted, 50 per cent average recycled content included in packaging and the phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

“Every year, Australia sends roughly 76 million tonnes of material to landfill, and corporations account for more than 80 per cent of that,” Giorgio said.

“With the clock ticking on the Federal Government's 2025 National Packaging Targets and Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek pushing for stricter rules to boost recycling, Australian companies are feeling the heat to step up and manage their waste better,” he said.

Canva’s Dan Bloom said the company had been searching for an end-to-end waste stream for some time before finding a perfect match in RecycleSmart.

“RecyleSmart was able to satisfy all our waste needs and collect everything from one spot,” he said.

"The access to data was also crucial for us. It provides invaluable insights and lets us congratulate our team and make them feel good about their job and about being leaders when it comes to corporate Australia taking responsibility for its waste.”

Birchal co-founder and CEO Matt Vitale said the crowdfunding platform was delighted to manage a second round for the company.

“We're thrilled to have completed round two for RecycleSmart,” he said.

“Their success speaks volumes - 800,000 kgs of waste diverted and impressive traction and growth since their last raise. RecycleSmart is inspiring a movement towards a cleaner Australia; making recycling as easy as ordering a pizza.”

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