Bay Area Company Receives $400,000 from EPA for Zero Waste Artificial Intelligence Project
SAN FRANCISCO – As part of the national celebration of America Recycles Day this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Zabble, Inc., in Walnut Creek, Calif., has received a $400,000 contract to further the development of a zero waste management platform that uses artificial intelligence. The contract was awarded under EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and is one of eight such awards given in 2022.
“The technology that this research will advance reduces waste going to landfills, which is critical to protecting communities from pollution and reducing emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “As EPA celebrates America Recycles Day, we are proud to further efforts like Zabble’s to improve how communities across the country recycle and compost.”
"We are excited for this opportunity as it continues to show that the EPA is prioritizing the improvement of the recycling infrastructure and education in the US." says Nik Balachandran, the founder and CEO of Zabble. "The Zabble Zero™ platform is the first artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software platform built for generators to efficiently manage their material streams and workflows from disposal to hauling."
Zabble‘s platform -- called Zabble Zero -- targets healthcare organizations, universities and corporate campuses that want to better track their waste, increase recycling, and reduce landfill-bound waste. Zabble Zero uses AI to identify a waste bin’s fullness and contaminants from photos and recommend adjusting container sizes to reduce waste disposal and costs. So far in 2022, Zabble clients have measured more than 15,000 tons of materials and prevented more than 100 tons from going to landfills.
The concept for Zabble Zero was proven through research that was supported by a prior EPA SBIR contract awarded in 2021. During that first research phase, Zabble tested AI-based technology that learned to automatically detect and classify materials in the wrong bins from a cell phone image and notify users where to find the contaminants. With this new SBIR award, Zabble will expand Zabble Zero into a “command center” for efficiently managing waste management workflows and material flows across an organization.
EPA issues an annual SBIR solicitation nationwide for technology proposals for specific high priority environmental topics. Proposals are evaluated on their technical merit, potential for commercialization and environmental impact in the given topic area. The awards help companies like Zabble further develop and commercialize the most promising environmental technologies.