Turning One Company's Trash Into Another's Treasure, RecycleMatch Brings Site Out Of Beta, Hires New CEO

Today, RecycleMatch — a Houston-based startup that helps businesses sell or give away stuff to recyclers and manufacturers so that they don’t have to send it to a landfill — took its online marketplace out of beta, unveiling several new features and services.

If the site performs as hoped, RecycleMatch could become the Alibaba, eBay or Amazon of waste-management and manufacturing, while helping just about any company improve its sustainability profile.

Among the materials RecycleMatch helps businesses take out of the landfill-bound waste stream are: “commodity recyclables” including paper, steel, plastic and glass; wastewater; consumer electronics and business equipment (a.k.a. e-waste); and food waste.

How do you “recycle” food waste, exactly? [ed: Besides throwing overripe tomatoes around in Valencia, Spain’s famous annual Tomato Battle] One soup maker uses RecycleMatch to sell its wasted product to renewable energy companies that purchase or pick it up to turn it into biofuel.

The startup, whose offices are in Houston and Austin, recently attained a series A investment from a fund that it hasn’t yet revealed, and is putting the undisclosed capital towards sales and marketing, as well as website development. A few months ago, RecycleMatch brought on a new chief executive, Chris Porch, a serial entrepreneur who earlier worked in c-suite levels positions at Zag.com and BetweenMarkets, other online marketplace businesses.

RecycleMatch founder, Brooke Farrell, spoke with TechCrunch about her inspiration to start this business (bringing on her brother-in-law Chad Farrell as co-founder) in the fall of 2009. The environmental and financial costs of sending business and industrial waste to landfills in the United States could be, and must be reduced she thought, while studying EPA data and tuning in to blogs and trades about trash and the environment.

She noted on Tuesday:

“For each one pound of waste generated by a consumer in the United States today, there are 60.31 lbs. of commercially generated manufacturing and industrial waste that were generated in the production of those goods. Companies pay on average, in the U.S. $45 per ton tipping fees to send that waste to landfills.”

The new RecycleMatch website features the following services for buyers and bidders of recyclable or re-usable materials:

    1. Anonymous listings and messaging between buyers and bidders, that protects companies from revealing to the public what is in their waste stream.

    2. Specialized bidding that…

    a. lets buyers bid on materials, or find materials they need for free one time, or on a regular, weekly or monthly basis.

    b. allows sellers to choose among bidders who offer the best price, or are in the most convenient location to arrange a pick-up, or have an intended use for the materials that the sellers can appreciate.

    4. Reputation management system where buyers and sellers rate and are able to respond to one another, unlike the Yelp model. The reputation scores and reviews will be monitored by RecycleMatch’s customer service team.

Porch believes RecycleMatch will lower the cost of innovation in materials science and renewable energy. He said:

“When there was damage done to a big building in Houston after a hurricane, people could not deal with a lot of the glass waste, because of a particular kind of film that was on it. We matched the company [that had to clean up this glass] with another that took it, and crushed it to make countertops.

There are so many innovative ways to reuse materials instead of dumping them in a landfill. We make it possible for this to happen, across state lines, and in a way that’s affordable for all involved.”

With its new leadership and website in place, Farrell predicted:

“RecycleMatch should grow within orders of magnitude this year. Right now, we’re looking at several hundred listings on our site. We expect to see five or ten thousand listings within a year.”

Editor’s note:

A reader asks how RecycleMatch plans to make money. According to CEO Porch, RecycleMatch uses “a performance based business model.” The site and service is free for those who want to register and list materials for sale, and to those who bid as buyers.

The company charges 5% commission for material sold on the site. If material is given away free, RecycleMatch charges $5 a ton for whatever material is picked up by a “buyer.” Porch and Farrell said those listing materials on RecycleMatch save money by not paying tipping fees at landfills, which according to the company are on average, in the U.S., $45 per ton.