Trash Warrior on Waste Dive

The concept of creating an "Uber for trash" has gotten plenty of media buzz in recent years. Now, a new West Coast player called Trash Warrior is also citing Uber as inspiration and has backing from venture capital firms.

Fittingly, this tech startup is based in San Francisco, the birthplace and setting for the ride-sharing company’s rise. Founded in 2019, Trash Warrior’s service offers on-demand removal of junk, furniture and cardboard through a platform linking to a network of third-party haulers, allowing residential and commercial customers to schedule pick-ups and pay online.

In May, Trash Warrior announced it raised $ 1.2 million in pre-seed funding in a round led by AltaIR Capital along with Lightspeed Venture Partners, 500 Startups, Alumni Ventures Group and Lombardstreet Ventures. "Innovation has been painfully slow here," said Clayton Bryan, a venture partner at 500 Startups, referring to the waste industry. "We formed a thesis and it aligned well with Trash Warrior’s mission."

Ultimately, Trash Warrior is the latest in a new breed of service providers rising in the waste management industry. It’s broadly similar to established companies such as Atlanta-based Rubicon, New York-based Recycle Track Systems (RTS) or Pittsburgh-based RoadRunner Recycling, which all focus on technology to connect customers with third-party, independent haulers.

Trash Warrior’s platform is available in the San Francisco area, including Sacramento and San Jose, where it works with more than 100 service providers, according to founder and CEO Lily Shen. At the moment, the company is focused on building its presence in the Bay Area, where it must navigate franchise agreements between haulers and local municipalities as it looks to grow.

"We are only serving the needs of the clients that cannot be fulfilled by the current service offering of Recology and Waste Management," said Shen. "Clients usually have nonstandard needs that need alternative solutions."

It’s a balancing act, but she sees room for Trash Warrior to operate and provide a new service without violating franchise agreements, such as San Francisco’s contract with Recology.

"This exclusive permitted system does not provide legal opportunities for expanding services beyond Recology collectors as they are not permitted if they charge for their service," said Joseph Sweiss, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Department of the Environment, in a statement. "With that said, the system is one that is currently helping maintain an open rate-setting process that serves our residents and enables us to push the envelope towards innovation and sustainability."

Published by Waste Dive — on September 8, 2020