EPA Invests in Rheaply to Enhance Material Recycling
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently selected 30 small businesses to receive part of a $3 million investment to help develop new technologies to address environmental and public health concerns. Among the recipients was Chicago-based startup Rheaply.
Rheaply is based on the concept of circular economies, where waste or excesses resources are repurposed, significantly reducing waste. An example of a circular economy is a furniture designer repurposing wood scraps into other products instead of chucking the waste into the garbage and it ending up in a landfill.
Launched in 2016, Rheaply offers a SaaS platform that not only functions as an asset manager but also allows companies to publicly post assets they no longer need. With the platform, businesses can sell, share and rent unwanted assets with other businesses. A feature on the software also allows companies to request specific assets.
“As emerging technologies continue to rapidly change the world, our nation’s small businesses are at the forefront of harnessing these technologies to address today’s environmental challenges,” Wayne Cascio, acting principal deputy assistant administrator in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, said in a statement. “We are excited to watch these small companies bring innovative ideas to the marketplace and help revolutionize improving our environment, public health and the economy.”
The idea for Rheaply was conceived by CEO Garry Cooper when he was a PH.D. student at Northwestern University. Cooper wanted a way for students to share lab resources so he invited Rheaply. Since launching the company has repurposed 14.5 metric tons of would-be waste and completed over 5,000 transactions on its platform.
“I saw that my laboratory had things in surplus that we weren’t using and maybe we would never use. Meanwhile, I had colleagues who had funding issues who needed some of the things that we were not going to use, so part of it just came out of necessity,” Cooper told Built In back in March 2020 when the company raised $2.5 million. “I also got really interested in this concept called circular economy. There’s this $4.5 trillion global opportunity to design out waste and to design out the need for new raw materials by just sharing things that are in circulation already.”
Rheaply will receive up to $100,000 from the EPA for “proof of concept.” The startup can then apply to receive a second round of funding — up to $400,000 — to develop its concept and technology.
This isn’t Rheaply’s only outside investment this year either. In February, the company closed an $8 million Series A round. And in June, Rheaply secured a $2.2 million investment from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund and MIT’s Solve Innovation Future to add a feature that would allow companies using Rheaply’s platform to track their carbon emissions.
Since launching, Rheaply has raised $12.7 million and is currently hiring for several open positions.