Tanner Cook, Co-Founder at CleanRobotics, joins Builder Nation Podcast host Elisa Muñoz to share his experiences as a leader in the waste management and recycling industry and the insights he has gained from his broad experience in mechanical engineering. 

This interview was brought to you by BuilderNation, the community of Hardware leaders developing world-changing products, and sponsored by ControlHub, the purchasing software for hardware companies. 


Waste management and recycling are crucial practices for environmental sustainability. Waste management involves collecting, transporting, and disposing of waste materials, while recycling involves processing waste materials into new products. By reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, these practices help conserve natural resources. 

CleanRobotics is one of the companies at the forefront of transforming the industry. Their innovative technology employs robotics, AI, and machine learning to improve waste sorting and recycling accuracy, efficiency, and speed.  

This blog post will delve into the waste management and recycling industry and the technologies for automated waste sorting and recycling, with a particular focus on CleanRobotics. 

Waste management and recycling

Waste management and recycling is a rapidly growing sector of the economy, driven by the increasing demand for sustainable waste management practices. The global waste management market is projected to reach $542.7 billion in revenue by 2026. 

However, the environmental impact of waste management and recycling practices must be addressed. Landfills, for example, produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. In contrast, recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by conserving natural resources and reducing energy consumption. 

Proper practices can reduce the impact of pollution and provide numerous benefits for the environment and society, such as reducing pollution, conserving natural resources, and creating jobs. By reducing the amount of waste in landfills, these practices also help extend the lifespan of existing landfills and reduce the need for new ones. 

In addition, recycling reduces the need to extract new raw materials from the environment, conserves natural resources, and minimizes the environmental impact of mining and other extraction activities. Recycling also reduces energy consumption, as it requires less energy to process recycled materials than it does to process raw materials. 

The demand for sustainable waste management practices drives the development of new technologies and innovations, such as advanced waste sorting systems and new recycling processes. These data-driven approaches are helping waste management companies improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and increase recycling rates.


CleanRobotics is an innovative company that creates sustainable waste management and recycling solutions. They strive to make recycling smarter and revolutionize the industry by introducing new and innovative solutions, helping achieve zero waste goals by introducing smart, data-driven approaches that empower decision-making. 

CleanRobotics solves the confusion around waste disposal, which leads to contamination of recyclables and high recycling costs, thus creating a greener tomorrow. Their flagship product, Trashbot™, is a smart trash can that sorts recyclables from everyday trash and provides data on trash and recycling to update waste management processes dynamically. 


TrashBot is an intelligent recycling bin developed to address the challenges of waste management and recycling. It is an innovative solution that combines AI, robotics, and machine learning to sort waste at the disposal point. Its purpose is to increase sorting accuracy and reduce contamination rates while educating the public about recycling best practices. 

This robot helps improve waste management and recycling. It weighs about 250 pounds or 113 kilograms and is around 73 inches or 185 centimeters tall. The unit’s dimensions are 44 x 23.5 x 48 inches (112 x 60 x 122 cm), and the monitor on top is 43.5 x 25 inches (110.5 x 58 cm). Its total capacity is 80 gallons or 304 liters, but the exact capacity of each bin depends on the system configuration. TrashBot uses 250 to 400 kilowatt-hours of electricity with moderate to heavy use. 


Higher diversion rates: TrashBot helps facilities increase sorting accuracy to 96%, compared to the 30% accuracy of conventional bins. This means more materials get recycled, reducing landfill waste and associated environmental harm.

Cost-effective recycling: with the help of TrashBot’s innovative technology, facilities can reduce contamination, avoid recycling fines, and achieve a positive impact on the environment, leading to more cost-effective environmental programs and a greater return on investment.

User recycling education: TrashBot features a large 55-inch screen that can display educational content or advertisements, helping to educate the public about recycling best practices and increasing awareness of sustainability initiatives.

Positive environmental impact: TrashBot’s technology helps reduce landfill waste and associated ecological harm, positively impacting the environment.

Composting: TrashBot can increase waste composting by 200% or more by diverting organic waste into the appropriate bin.


Recycling AI and robotics: TrashBot uses robotics, computer vision, and machine learning to detect and separate landfill waste from recyclables. When an item enters TrashBot, a perception system captures and identifies the item’s image and classifies it by type of waste, diverting it to its respective bin.

Waste data and analytics: TrashBot captures high-quality data and generates analytics for on-demand, exportable waste audits. With our intuitive dashboard, users can monitor the bin’s capacity, track diversion rates, notice trends, and make strategic decisions.

Fullness notifications: TrashBot monitors its internal capacity and triggers SMS or email notifications for the custodial team when it’s complete, reducing the need for manual monitoring and increasing efficiency.

Customizable AI for compliance: TrashBot’s AI technology can be customized to ensure compliance with local regulations and waste management policies.

Cloud connectivity: TrashBot’s waste data is stored in the cloud, allowing smart bin fleets to become more intelligent over time and ensuring that facilities always have access to real-time data and insights.

Dynamic content: TrashBot provides real-time, adaptable feedback and engaging, custom content reflecting what is being thrown away. With TrashBot’s waste data, our Customer Success team can develop relevant educational content for the facility’s most popular waste items, educating users on recycling properly.


When it comes to TrashBots, it’s natural to have many questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about CleanRobotic’s TrashBot: 

What is TrashBot? TrashBot is an intelligent recycling bin that sorts waste at the disposal point.

Is TrashBot a robot? Yes, it is an automated machine combining robotics, AI, and machine learning to divert the disposed item into its corresponding bin.

How does TrashBot work? Once an item has been inserted into TrashBot, the waste chamber moves the item to the camera for identification and ultimately to the proper bin for disposal. Then, recycling items will be assigned to recycling, organics to their corresponding bin, and the rest of the waste or contaminated items will be assigned to the landfill bin.

How long does it take to sort an item? TrashBot takes around 4 to 6 seconds to sort. The cycle time is the period between disposals.

How many waste streams can TrashBot sort? The system can sort 2, 3, or 4 separate waste streams.

Can TrashBot be customized for my local recycling requirements? Every TrashBot is calibrated to the local waste rules and regulations before it is deployed.

How accurate is TrashBot’s AI? TrashBot sorts waste items with 96% accuracy.

How often does the Dashboard Update? The dashboard updates every 15 minutes.

Does the AI improve over time? Yes, TrashBots share data, learn from each other, and are always getting better.

What is TrashBot’s cycle time? The cycle time is the period between disposals, which is approximately 4 to 6 seconds. The new TrashBot Zero’s cycle time is only 6 seconds from when the end user throws away a piece of trash to when the gantry is back lined up with the deposit opening allowing another amount of waste.

How can I know when TrashBot is full? Users can view how full each TrashBot is on your personalized TrashBoard, which will help keep your custodian team on track with TrashBots in more remote areas of your facility that may not get tended to regularly. It is important to note that the sensing chamber needs to be maintained clean to prevent future jams or sorting issues.

Does TrashBot provide jam notifications? Yes, if the TrashBot ever gets jammed, the user will be notified in two ways. First, the TrashBot logo on the unit will change colors to signal a jam to the housekeeping and/or maintenance staff. Second, the user will also be notified on the Dashboard under the TrashBot fleet.