Training AI-powered recycling robots with Rebecca Hu from Glacier

Training AI-powered recycling robots with Rebecca Hu from Glacier


  • Glacier is an AI robotics company founded in 2019 by Rebecca and AR to address the climate crisis and improve recycling efficiency.
  • Their robots use AI-powered vision to identify and sort recyclable materials, improving traceability and recovery of high-value items.
  • Glacier collaborates with various stakeholders in the circular economy to promote sustainable design and end-of-life packaging solutions.
  • The company leverages data and insights from the recycling process to educate brands and manufacturers on sustainable design principles.

Challenges in Recycling

  • The recycling process is complex due to material variations and the need for high purity rates.
  • Wish cycling, putting non-recyclable items in recycling bins, further complicates the process.

Glacier's Technology

  • Glacier's robots use AI-powered vision trained on millions of images to identify and sort recyclable materials.
  • The AI can be customized based on location and local recycling guidelines.
  • Glacier's technology helps companies understand the fate of their packaging after it reaches consumers, enabling them to improve sustainability efforts and comply with extended producer responsibility laws.

Funding and Partnerships

  • Glacier recently secured funding, reflecting growing investor interest in AI and climate tech.
  • Some investors remain skeptical about AI's capabilities and want to ensure companies genuinely use AI rather than manual labor.
  • Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund invested in Glacier due to its market potential and ability to enhance the sustainability of Amazon's supply chain.


  • Gler is a company that applies AI and industrial automation to solve challenges in the recycling industry.
  • Co-founded by Randall, Gler's leadership style is consensus-driven and open to new information.
  • The company's first hire was a skilled mechanical engineer to complement the co-founders' software and AI development expertise.
  • Gler's robots are made from sustainable materials, and the company is committed to reducing its environmental footprint.

Gler's Technology and Future Plans

  • Gler's robots are currently focused on expanding to different materials and waste streams.
  • The company is exploring ways to use AI and data to make better decisions about recycling.
  • Gler is considering various approaches to sortation at scale, including designing new technologies that don't rely on item-by-item picking.

Skepticism Towards AI Companies

  • Some investors are skeptical about AI companies and want to ensure they genuinely use AI rather than manual labor.
  • The speaker criticizes this skepticism, highlighting Glacier's achievements in building and deploying real robots with a small team.
  • The speaker argues that companies like Glacier deserve more funding and expresses frustration with investors' excessive focus on AI without considering implementation and results.

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