- Recycle Track Systems (RTS) has acquired Ambrosia, a unique company that processes organics and manufactures products from food waste. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Ambrosia Co-Founder and CEO Amanda Weeks has joined RTS as a vice president overseeing her former company's operations and other "zero waste" initiatives. The deal includes Ambrosia's 12,000-square-foot facility in Newark, New Jersey, along with multiple patents, including for the process to create recently launched cleaning spray Veles.
- While the current focus is on integrating operations and meeting rising demand in the New York metro area, RTS aims to expand its organics recycling capabilities in markets with existing commercial or municipal contracts. “We’re exploring our options, but we’re definitely going to look to open additional facilities with this technology in other markets," said CEO Greg Lettieri.
This deal is the third for RTS since it was founded in 2015, following prior acquisitions of Recyclebank and accounts from Enevo, and marks a notable evolution for both companies. It also sets RTS apart from most competitors in the New York metro area that don't have their own organics recycling facilities, as well as other national technology companies that service customers through hauling partners but don't own processing infrastructure.
RTS had been an investor in Ambrosia and regularly directed organics collected from commercial customers to the New Jersey facility. Ambrosia (formerly known as Industrial/Organic) previously had plans to launch new facilities and expand its product offerings. In the years since it was launched in 2014, the company successfully raised multiple rounds of funding, including $4.2 million in 2018, yet didn't have the same scale as RTS in terms of access to capital or customers.
The two companies began discussing a possible deal in July and the transaction closed Oct. 1. With New York City planning further expansion of commercial organics recycling through a zone system, and similar statewide policies taking effect in New York and New Jersey in the coming years, Lettieri described it as a "natural progression" for his company. Restaurants, grocery stores, stadiums and other large sites are among the various RTS clients that need or want organics service. At the same time, New York City has paused its residential organics collection program due to budget challenges and many commercial customers have been thrown off by the pandemic, leaving broader recycling progress uncertain.
“With everything that’s happened from COVID to the waste industry – you have municipalities that are cutting their recycling, that are cutting their food waste programs in infancy – the partnership between us and RTS brings together a powerful engine for solutions to try to see the waste industry through this period," said Weeks, adding she envisions Ambrosia's original goals continuing under the new ownership. “We at this point still see the opportunities across the board, from running the waste facilities to the manufacturing and the products on the other end."
Originally focused on scaling its anaerobic fermentation technology and potentially selling plant food pellets or non-potable water as additional revenue, Ambrosia's approach has evolved over the years to focus on a broader vision of waste-based products. Speaking in March about the launch of her first consumer product, Veles, Weeks' goal at the time was to become "DuPont for the circular economy" by pursuing opportunities to create chemicals and ingredients from organic material in parallel to the processing operation.
There has been interest from multiple customers, retail and otherwise, in using or selling products derived from waste to meet growing demand for more circular, closed loop solutions. RTS also recently announced the launch of a website (zerowaste.com) with products and educational resources as part of that push. Lettieri described the Ambrosia deal as fitting into a growing pattern.
“For us it was about having a circular economy product," he said. “That’s really why we continue to innovate in this space. You look at Recyclebank, you look at Ambrosia, ZeroWaste.com. We feel that over the next one to 10 years consumers and corporations are going to look for products that are driving toward a zero waste outcome."