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Jonathan Feldstein, founder of

Around half of the rubbish that is thrown in the general waste could be recycled, while a quarter of waste that is consigned to recycling is contaminated with unrecyclable materials.

This means that huge volumes of waste are ending up in landfill unnecessarily, with waste contamination alone sending over half a million tonnes of recycling to landfill in the UK each year. But one entrepreneurial student from the University of Edinburgh has developed an innovative solution to the messy waste problem.

From idea to company formation

In 2021, while pursuing a PhD in AI at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, Jonathan Feldstein founded a startup - EI supported Jonathan’s efforts early on through the Venture Builder Incubator and the Startup Summer Accelerator (SUSA), providing Jonathan with initial funding and business mentoring to set on track. In 2021 won the Cisco Future Tech Award, swiftly followed by a Scottish EDGE Net Zero award at COP26. Further accolades, prestigious grants and a lot of hard work later, is a multi-award-winning AI-robotics company on a mission to create sustainable solutions and contribute towards a circular economy.

Taking flight’s first product, Janus, is a SmartBin that sorts waste automatically, reducing contamination and ensuring that as much waste is recycled as possible. Janus is designed for spaces with high footfall such as airports, train stations and shopping centres. The technology increases recycling rates for the organisations who own those spaces, having the double benefit of reducing their carbon footprints and saving money through improved waste management. Data is a key component of’s operations: the team collected data to develop the material detection algorithm that is at the centre of Janus, and customers will be provided with refuse data that will give them tailored guidance on how to improve their waste management systems.

In November 2023, Edinburgh Airport launched a month-long pilot to provide with user feedback to prepare Janus for a market launch. It’s a big step for the young startup, but one that Jonathan and the team have prepared for a year, developing several prototypes supported in parts by the manufacturing capabilities of the School of Informatics’ Makerspace. From idea to impact, Jonathan’s journey with demonstrates what can be achieved with innovative thinking, the right expertise and the right support. Next, a newly won SMART:SCOTLAND grant will allow the company to apply its AI and robotics expertise and passion for environmentalism to new challenges. Watch this space.

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