The SmarterX Blog.

News and tips for retailers, brands, and those who know better data will build a more sustainable future.

Sorty in Orange Leaf
This component uses Transforms (Move Down 100%) to hide and show modal so that filters apply once the user hits the apply button (optimal UX). Using the display: hidden will prevent the apply button from working.

To show and hide the modal for editing purposes:
  • Select the filters6_filters-modal div found next to the filter6_filters-button div.
  • Hit the Hide button and it will show (yes this is counterintuitive).
Filters instructions

Featured Post

Filter by Category
Filters modal close icon
Showing 0 of 100
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Delete Tag icon
Jacqueline Claudia talks with Earth911 on data-driven technology to optimize retailer recycling
June 23, 2022
5 min read

Jacqueline Claudia talks with Earth911 on data-driven technology to optimize retailer recycling

On Earth911’s podcast, Jacqueline Claudia discusses how Smarter Sorting is helping retailers and brands reduce their environmental impact.

Smarter Summary

  • (02:43) Smarter Sorting’s Back of Store System (BOSS) makes EHS data trackable and actionable
  • (04:08) Chemical and physical product attributes in the Product Intelligence PlatformTM
  • (04:59) Upstream recycling at the product procurement level
  • (06:39) From the source to our algorithms: How we fuel our product information
  • (07:47) Retailer to de facto regulator: Find out a product's breakdown with our granular physical and chemical information
  • (10:45) Responsibility within the recycling system
  • (13:20) The downstream implications of upstream decisions in the supply chain
  • (15:25) A data-driven and transparent future: Helping the engaged, informed consumer answer their product questions
  • (16:45) A growing partnership between Feeding America and Smarter Sorting
  • (19:06) Sustainability and stewardship in retail
  • (20:42) Smarter Sorting’s impact
  • (21:13) Follow along: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

On Earth911’s Sustainability in Your Ear podcast, Mitch Ratcliffe has an in-depth conversation with Jacqueline Claudia (CEO, Smarter Sorting) about the ways Smarter Sorting is helping retailers and brands reduce their environmental impact.

Jacqueline was invited onto the podcast to discuss the use of product data, the physical and chemical attributes of consumer products, to optimize retail recycling. In the interview, Jacqueline talks about our Product Intelligence PlatformTM and Back of Store System (BOSS), Smarter Sorting’s work to make EHS data trackable and actionable, as well as our growing partnership with Feeding America.

From a data perspective, we are working across the supply chain to help make the circular economy an achievable reality. By profiling products, we can fully understand the implications of their chemical and physical attributes.

Jacqueline explains, “We understand what products actually are - what’s in them, what size, how much they weigh - so we can make better decisions about what to do with them. If we want to know if something is toxic, we can examine the ingredient list and determine if there are any ingredients in the product that are toxic. Or, if a product needs to be thrown away, we have data that tells us what we can do with it - both legally and responsibly - in the back of the store.”

We are also working to promote a circular economy by managing consumer products that can no longer be sold: the product is nearing its sell-by date, the packaging is damaged, etc. Our system connects food banks with our retail partners’ back of store donation information in real time. This information enables food banks to plan menus ahead of product delivery. “I can go into the Feeding America app using the API connection that we’ve made with them, and I can tell that I can go pick up 200 pounds of broccoli at this store and 600 pounds of potatoes at that store and make a really awesome soup for the folks at my kitchen,” Jacqueline expounds, “and so we allow less food to go to waste because we make it available to people.”

To hear more of Jacqueline Claudia’s conversation with Mitch Ratcliffe about Smarter Sorting’s quest to optimize retail recycling, tune in above.

regulated wasted management
consumer products
retail sustainability
The do's and dont's of selling TVs, computers, printers and other electronics
June 1, 2022
5 min read

The do's and dont's of selling TVs, computers, printers and other electronics

Want to get new tech to consumers, quickly and efficiently? Examine all applicable regulations and requirements for selling covered electronic devices.

The do's and don'ts of selling TVs, computers, printers and other electronics

What are the state-level rules for compliantly selling consumer electronics?

As the consumption of consumer electronics increases and the obligations to handle electronics in a safe and sustainable way becomes more and more important, it’s essential that retailers and manufacturers know their obligations and understand the proactive ways they can be good corporate citizens.

Here are three questions electronics retailers and manufacturers should seek to answer:

1. What are the state-level regulations that apply to Covered Electronic Devices (CED) today?
2. How does the price of a TV affect which regulations apply?
3. Which states have obscure rules for CEDs?  

Failing to comply with selling requirements could result in being placed on a “Do Not Sell” list and the issuance of fines.

Demand for consumer electronics is going up and up and so are the risks if retailers make mistakes with selling, shipping, returns, recycling, and donations?

US sales of electronic devices are staggering. In 2021, we spent a whopping $442 billion. That’s $1,440 for every person. ​​Over the next five years, the industry expects a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% globally.

While demand for electronic devices increases, retailers and manufacturers are also under pressure to deliver products as efficiently and sustainably as possible. There are many hurdles to overcome - most notably, regulatory hurdles. Every phase of the consumer electronic supply chain is regulated, from equipment manufacture, to transportation, to selling in the store, to how the product must be disposed of when no longer needed.

The early 2000s yielded a flurry of electronic device legislation in the United States. But regulations haven’t kept up with product innovation. This has left manufacturers, retailers and handlers of electronic devices struggling to interpret older regulations and apply them to new products hitting the market.

For example, there are no federal regulations for how TVs, computers, monitors, computer peripherals, and printers should be sold, handled and disposed of. That said, half of US states have implemented their own regulations for electronics covering these devices, known formally as “Covered Electronic Devices (CEDs)”.

It’s imperative for manufacturers and retailers to understand state requirements, and each state’s requirements differ slightly. For example, in South Carolina, TVs that are sold for less than $100 are exempt from the CED requirements. While in Pennsylvania, manufacturers who only make computer peripherals (and no other device type) are exempt from requirements. Companies have needed to stay on top of regulations, including local nuances, to avoid being fined for shipping or disposing of products in the wrong way.

This is where Smarter Sorting comes to the rescue. We know the rules. We also know the individual makeup of millions of consumer products. We can accurately identify the right product classification, instantly.

In our State-level Requirements for Selling Covered Electronic Devices white paper, we examine all applicable requirements for selling CEDs and break down how manufacturers and retailers can confidently navigate the complex regulatory environment in order to get products to consumers, quickly and efficiently.

State-level requirements for selling CEDs - Smarter Sorting, May 2022

retail compliance solutions
Take it from a pro — math (and computer programming) matters
May 11, 2022
5 min read

Take it from a pro — math (and computer programming) matters

Several of our female math and computer programming nerds talk about their experiences and advice studying and applying mathematics in the workforce.

“Math teaches you important skills about critical thinking, problem solving, and pattern recognition. You can and should apply those skills to other areas of work and life” -Haley Salzwedel, Sustainability and ESG Lead at Smarter Sorting.

Whether we realize it or not, mathematics permeates many aspects of our lives. Whether it’s the computers we use, the bills we pay, or the routes we take to work, math has an impact.

So, while females make up half of the college-educated workforce, why do they only make up 28% of the STEM workforce? For a field that prides itself on the objectivity of its work, this is a significant disparity.

To learn more about what it’s like to be a woman in a mathematics field, we sat down with several math nerds and Smarter Sorting employees: Adrianne Marcum, VP of Engineering, Sheri Schneider, Chief Data Officer, and Haley Salzwedel, Sustainability and ESG Lead, to talk about their experiences studying and applying mathematics in their work.

What interested you about mathematics?

Adrianne: Math is really intuitive, and it came easily to me. I liked that there was essentially one right answer. I didn't have to sit there and noodle about finding the perfect word like with writing. You can be creative and take any way you want to get to that point, but I knew there was one point to get to, and that was just really comforting to me. I remember the one thing that was intimidating when I was a kid was graphs. But then there was this oscillation lab that I had to do in physics where you have this weight with a pen on a spring. You pulled it out and then let it go. And then it drew a sine wave, and I was like, are you kidding me? This is real. And then after that, I was like, wow, a graph is all the information you need, and it's real. Math is badass.

Sheri: I agree, Adrianne. Also, in math, the correct answer is not subjective.

Haley: I was going to say the exact same thing. It's highly objective, so you know whether you have the right or wrong answer, and that closure is really satisfying. Also it's a universal language, so I think that's pretty cool. It's the same no matter where you go.

What obstacles have you faced in your career?

Adrianne: I feel like I often have to present my case more thoroughly than some of my male counterparts. I feel like my input is questioned more often or I’m asked to clarify my thought process more than my male counterparts.

Sheri: Contrary to my mathematical tendencies, I had to learn to be okay with gray areas. I had to learn how to still make progress while not being 100% sure that what I was marching toward was going to yield the business targets. And that was hard.

Haley:  In my previous life as an engineer, we weren't really trusted to complete tasks independently and own a project vertically. So I had to figure out how to maintain some autonomy and be confident that what I had to offer was worthwhile. Just because you're young doesn't mean you can't be skilled or competent in something.

How do you overcome these challenges?

Adrianne: I wouldn’t say that I work twice as hard, but I definitely make sure that I've done my due diligence to be ready before being questioned. It's a good thing I like math, and I like establishing patterns, finding data, and connecting those dots because it helps be prepared for any pushback.

Sheri: Two things helped me overcome the challenge of working in “gray areas.”  First was growing an appreciation for the business world and truly realizing that you can’t control all the variables to ensure a successful outcome.  Second would be gathering enough empirical evidence and justification that I was proceeding down the best path possible - a lot of weighing of pros and cons.

Haley: Yeah, I think in respect to developing confidence and competence, I really looked inward, focused on myself, and spent time developing expertise and really honing my craft. Once you do that, the numbers will speak for themselves. No pun intended, but pun intended. If you're doing a good job, that will speak for itself.

If you were starting a mathematics-field degree today, what area would you want to specialize in?

Adrianne: Behavioral economics. I would want to go study people and all of our being-our-selfness just to show how it's really just statistics. We all do kind of the same thing given the same inputs.

Sheri: I would still recommend applied math but with more of an emphasis in actual programming.  The mathematical mind lends itself to being a thorough analyst and being able to query and analyze large quantities of data quickly is a must-have in this data-driven world. My advice:  “Don’t cheat through your C++ class.”  It may be an old language, but it’s going to give you a great foundation for future application of your mathematical prowess.

Haley: I would still do an engineering field, but specifically metallurgical and materials engineering.

What advice do you have for your female mathematically minded peers?

Adrianne: I would offer the advice that Haley gave for coping with the setbacks and challenges she has faced. Focus on yourself and what you're capable of doing rather than listening to what other people are saying about what you can do. I’d recommend finding other females that you can collaborate with because you gain confidence working with true peers doing the same thing. We can do this work, and it's really fun and enjoyable to work with other females that are into the same thing. Nothing against men, I work with men all the time. But it's just reassuring to work with females and have that comradery.

Sheri: I would say that the mathematical mindset is systematic. Like, literally step-by-step and anchored on logical progression; this begets this begets this. And I think folks with that kind of a mind need to share their thought processes with other people because I think we take it for granted that people’s minds work in the same way as ours. We think, “why aren't you seeing what I see?” I think when you can take the opportunity to share how you got to a conclusion, you'll actually get better reception and buy-in for your ideas and approaches.  A logical mind is really important, especially like working with data.

Haley: I love what Sheri said. I'll segue off of that and add that [one gains an] understanding that math teaches you more esoteric skills when it comes to critical thinking, problem solving, and pattern recognition. And you can, and should, apply those skills to other areas of work and life because they will serve you well. Make your skills and interests work for you.

Computer Programming
Women in Science
Smarter Sorting Wins Stevie Gold Award for Product Innovation
April 28, 2022
5 min read

Smarter Sorting Wins Stevie Gold Award for Product Innovation

Smarter Sorting was today named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award for Achievement in Product Innovation in The 20th Annual American Business Awards®.

AUSTIN, Texas and BOULDER, Colo., April 28, 2022 -- Smarter Sorting, a consumer goods data and sustainability company, was today named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award for Achievement in Product Innovation in The 20th Annual American Business Awards®.

The American Business Awards are the U.S.A.'s premier business awards program. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small.

Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word meaning "crowned," the awards will be presented to winners at a gala ceremony at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York on Monday, June 13.

More than 3,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories. Smarter Sorting was nominated in the Achievement in Product Innovation category.

Smarter Sorting's winning award entry highlighted how its unique data lake and proprietary software map the ingredients and chemistry of products, and using computational mathematics, it matches this data to federal and state regulations plus retailers' policies. The Back of Store System (BOSS) taps into this cloud-based decision engine to accurately determine the best way retailers can dispose of unsold or damaged products, or whether they could be donated to charity. And if the retailer partners with US Ecology, the company's Back of Store System (BOSS) syncs with US Ecology trucks so its technicians know exactly when to schedule pick-ups, what waste to pick up and how much to expect.

One of the award judges commented: "This is an excellent solution with a great mission of sustainability, safety and environment. Plus a humanitarian purpose to increase donation capabilities for retailers."

"I'm extremely proud of our team," said Jacqueline Claudia, CEO of Smarter Sorting. "We have shown making better decisions for the environment is just good business. The unique way we use data, science and technology delivers a cost-effective and scalable solution for retailers and brands."

More than 230 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year's Stevie Award winners.

"We are so pleased that we will be able to stage our first ABA awards banquet since 2019 and to celebrate, in person, the achievements of such a diverse group of organizations and individuals," said Maggie Miller, president of the Stevie Awards.

Details about The American Business Awards and the list of 2022 Stevie winners are available at

About the Stevie Awards:

Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, the Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards®, The International Business Awards®, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.

Our Products
Press Release
More packaging, more problems
April 21, 2022
5 min read

More packaging, more problems

Understand the effects of packaging on the environment, human health, and everyday life as Dr. Michael Washburn breaks down common misconceptions.

There are roughly 50 billion PET bottles produced and consumed each year in the US. Over 70% of these will land in a dump, on a roadside, in a waterway, or somewhere else they do not belong. While single stream recycling has been established in many communities around the  US, only about 40% of the population has consistent access to recycling.

Packaging makes purchasing goods easy and convenient. But its long lasting impacts on the environment and human health can’t be ignored.

Millions of new products hit the shelves every year. The advent of new packaging technologies has made consumption easy and streamlined. It extends the useful life of food, prevents damage to products, and reduces health and safety risks in transit.

  • While packaging has created benefits and made convenience a cornerstone of modern life, the proliferation of packaging brings forth new challenges.
  • Consumers are facing health and safety implications associated with packaging buildup in the environment, and specific chemicals used in packaging.
  • Terrestrial and aquatic environments are being inundated with packaging waste such as microplastics, styrofoam, and coated food wrappers. These materials make their way into our waterways and soil, wreaking havoc on living organisms.
  • Retailers and manufacturers are receiving pressure from consumers and stakeholders to produce and use more sustainable packaging.
  • Plus, the regulatory floodgates are beginning to open, and companies must comply with a plethora of new laws and regulations related to tracking packaging quantities, reporting, and offering safer and more environmentally friendly packaging alternatives.

Packaging is clearly a complex and nuanced topic with far reaching effects on the environment, human health, and everyday life for consumers. To gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities, we sat down with an independent packaging expert, Dr. Michael Washburn, for an in depth Q&A session.

What are some common misconceptions around packaging and its environmental impact?

People often associate packaging with waste, and this is fair, but it is incomplete.  The right packaging can prevent damage to a product, extend the useful life of food, and reduce health and safety risks in transit.  Keeping food fresh and reducing food waste is a major plus from a climate standpoint, as the emissions from food waste can dwarf the footprint of the packaging itself.  So, keeping the role packaging can play in context is key to understanding its real impact.  While we need to address what happens to packaging after its use, we should also acknowledge that choosing the right packaging can have these other benefits.

What are some shocking statistics about plastic packaging?

Over 10 million tons of plastic enter waterways and oceans annually and that number is only increasing.  While recycling will help, we need to:

  • Improve solid waste management around the world
  • Reduce source inputs of unnecessary plastic
  • Find alternatives to applications where plastic may not be the best or only answer
  • Help consumers and policy makers understand that continued pollution from plastic represents a human health and ecosystem crisis.  

Micro-plastics have now been found, in one study, in the lungs of living people. It has previously been found at the bottom of the ocean. I think reasonable people can agree that we are not okay with plastic being in either place.

What toxic chemicals exist in common packaging that most consumers come into contact with on a day-to-day basis?

The most common toxins in packaging are the chemicals that make up things like moisture barriers. PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals”, are of great concern. While it is unknown exactly how they affect human health when properly applied on food packaging, they are a threat to health when that packaging breaks down and they are released into the environment.  They are also used in non-packaging applications as fire retardant and in other applications which is how they typically make their way into the environment. State and the federal governments are considering banning these and their use is already highly regulated.

Additionally, chemicals including heavy metals like mercury, chromium, cadmium and lead have been found in packaging. Again, while they may be stable in their respective applications, they can be released into the environment and their concentrations can be increased when the materials go through typical recycling systems. Addressing these issues has become a key element of new packaging regulations including extended producer responsibility policies and in some cases standalone legislation.

What are some exciting alternatives to plastic packaging that you are seeing today?

Paper, metal and glass are all still in play in the packaging market, and some companies are moving away from plastics toward these options in certain applications.  Innovation is bringing forward biodegradable, compostable, and also reusable options to reduce waste.  However, some biodegradable or compostable options can contaminate recycling streams, so substitution can create a new challenge.  As this evolves, new sorting technology including on-package identifiers are racing to catch up.  This is a place where Smarter Sorting’s packaging solution can add value, as it enables tracking of how much substitution is happening, and we will ultimately tie that back to recycling rates and recyclability claims.

Why is Smarter Sorting part of the solution to tackle the greater packaging problem?

Before a company, either a retailer or a supplier, can reduce their packaging or change the packaging they use, they first need to know what is being used and how much. Smarter Sorting’s solutions for packaging gives companies the tools they need to accurately measure and document what is there now.  Once those baselines are set, companies can identify areas where they want to reduce and/or change material types, container types, shapes, and quantities. Decision-support in this space, along with reliable measurements adds value in the context of meeting sustainability claims, reporting on progress in ESG content, and ultimately complying with EPR and other requirements that hold companies accountable for meeting certain goals. This can include reduction of chemicals of concern, inclusion of post-consumer recycled content, phasing out of certain materials, and compliance with EPR reporting.

Smarter packaging for a better world

As regulations mature and consumer demand shifts towards upholding greater sustainable behaviors, packaging will continue to evolve.

We’ve already seen Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation recently enacted in a handful of states. This type of legislation is key for gaining baseline values of packaging use and disposal, and ensuring producers provide funding and/or services to properly manage covered materials.

Once we establish baseline data and ensure waste management solutions are adequately funded, we can prioritize challenges and begin innovating in constructive ways. For example - extending the life of existing packaging, reducing amounts of input materials, replacing hazardous or unsustainable packaging with “greener” options, and developing our infrastructure for properly handling and treating end-of-life packaging.

Smarter Sorting is using product intelligence to help retailers and suppliers make better decisions for consumer products and packaging. The tools are specifically designed to help organizations track packaging materials in their supply chain and comply with emerging EPR regulations.

With these insights, organizations can be confident that they are in compliance with applicable regulations. Most importantly, they can make sustainable decisions that have a ripple effect on people and the planet. Smarter packaging, better world.

No items found.
100,000 data-driven retail pickups
April 19, 2022
5 min read

100,000 data-driven retail pickups

Explore how US Ecology has efficiently and sustainably streamlined 100,000 retail waste pickups with Smarter Sorting's Back of Store System (BOSS).

Waste is a byproduct of retail. It can be minimized but it’s impossible to avoid. When handled correctly and sustainably by recycling, donating, and directing to the correct waste streams, retailers can achieve their critical ESG goals.But how can retailers achieve this efficiently and at scale? Data and technology are the key to handling waste responsibly and ensuring sustainability is front and centerRecently, US Ecology Technician Bryan Thompson wrapped up his weekly route with a waste pickup at a major retailer in Lake Nona, Florida. Unbeknownst to him, the twelve minutes spent on-site would achieve a significant milestone.Bryan’s stop was the 100,000th service performed by US Ecology using Smarter Sorting's Back of Store System, which syncs with hardware in US Ecology trucks. Launched in July of 2020, this data driven software solution streamlines hazardous waste pickups while ensuring safety and compliance throughout the process. When paired with Smarter Sorting’s Back of Store System for Retailers, data shared between the two systems generates significant time savings for waste diversion as well as the safe and accurate disposal or recycling of consumer goods—resulting in savings passed on to retailers and consumer goods brands.US Ecology CEO Jeff Feeler praised the Smarter Sorting solution during a recent earnings call. “Our investment in AI software has generated a 30% increase in stops per day in our retail program with the installation of this technology in our fleet. We believe further efficiencies will be realized as retail customers adopt these technologies, including a new sorting process in the back of the retail stores.”Bryan Thompson added: “The system is both simple and efficient, and provides access to a dedicated support team if needed. It reduces the time it takes to complete a pickup, and ensures more products are sustainably recycled or donated, rather than disposed of, than ever before,”Smarter Sorting would like to congratulate Bryan for this historic milestone. We look forward to helping all members of the US Ecology fleet know more and do better for the next 100,000 stops—and beyond.

regulated wasted management
Our Products
Waste Management
Everything you need to know about aquatic toxicity
March 28, 2022
5 min read

Everything you need to know about aquatic toxicity

Discover why cruelty-free methods for testing aquatic toxicity can lead to an over-classification of toxic products... hence, the aquatox paradox.

Many consumer brands have made a commitment to themselves and their customers that they will not support or perform animal testing for ingredients they use or products they formulate. This is bold, inspirational, and challenging. A large, but relatively unknown, part of the challenge is regulatory authorities that require animal testing in order to assess aquatic toxicity for waste management. If you do not test, then your product must be managed as toxic to the aquatic environment. In this strange scenario, cruelty-free = toxic…hence, the aquatox paradox.

It should be noted that testing is not inherently bad, and this is especially true when introducing novel chemical constituents to the environment. That being said, testing does not always need to involve live animals and testing products for the sake of testing, regardless of how well studied, needs to be re-evaluated.

Aquatic Toxicity

Imagine a laboratory room filled with tanks of water, 10 fish per tank, all being dosed at various concentrations of chemicals or products to determine lethality. The objective of this test is to assess aquatic toxicity or, in some cases, prove that a product is not toxic. Each test requires a minimum of 40 fish (2 concentrations, performed in duplicate, with 10 fish per sample) in order to determine the lethal concentration that will kill 50% of the test population in a 96-hour period (a.k.a. LC50). If the results are not conclusive then additional testing is necessary.

This test method, also known as the “fish kill test”, is not pleasant to imagine and immediately prompts two questions:

1. Why is this being done?
2. Isn’t there an alternative?

Why is this being done?

Simply put, select regulatory authorities have decided that physical testing is the only way to truly determine if a waste or a potential waste could be hazardous to the aquatic environment. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you do not perform this test, then your product will default to being toxic and that brings a whole suite of obligations as well costs to developing and managing a product.

For example, toxic products become subject to regulation, which requires extensive documentation, reporting, training, and pass-through costs to manage incineration (destruction with high heat) in order to remain compliant. For a product like a cosmetic, failure to perform a test will automatically classify the item as toxic, and it will be incinerated regardless of whether it truly is toxic or not.

Here's where it gets messy. Sending non-toxic products to incineration is much more expensive than other waste management methods like landfilling, recycling, and donation. Furthermore, incinerating products and their packaging creates unwanted persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins, which are known carcinogens according to the EPA.

In summary, some authorities require that the fish kill test be performed in order to prove a material is not toxic. However, for the vast majority of consumer products, this test is unnecessary and inhumane — we can do better than this.

Isn’t there an alternative?

These testing requirements have been around since the 1980s and have not been seriously reviewed since that time. Meanwhile, in the past 20 years, the UN has developed and advocated for a reduction in animal testing through the use of pre-existing toxicity data and mathematical equations. Using math, one can estimate the aquatic toxicity based on relevant ingredients and the available toxicity data for those ingredients.

Smarter Sorting champions this approach and is already doing this at scale. Our tech services consume ingredients and concentration ranges, fetch statistically valid ecotox data from our databases, model the concentrations within each authority’s approved calculation method (see images below), and provide a classification that can be used in lieu of testing on animals.

Regulatory action

Today there are only two US states that use aquatic toxicity to determine hazardous waste characteristics, Washington and California. However, only Washington has taken regulatory action to allow for aquatic toxicity to be calculated as an alternative to physically testing every product formulation.

One interesting aspect to California is that other toxicological endpoints for dermal, oral, and inhalation toxicity already allow for calculation using ingredient-level data. It is unclear why the line has been drawn for calculating aquatic toxicity, especially given the acceptance for such methods both internationally and domestically. In addition to Washington, the EU has adopted the calculation methods that were developed through the UN and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) — arguably the world's foremost chemical classification scheme.

As is typical in the world of regulations, consumer demand and science are ahead of the curve and interested stakeholders need to proactively seek change. Changing regulations and accepting new science takes time, effort, and the budget to do so…but it is worth it. Data alone is not enough to drive change and make the world better. This is why Smarter Sorting is leading the discussion on regulatory reform to eliminate unnecessary animal testing. Right now we are supporting Assembly Bill 1793 in California (AB-1793 Quirk) to enable the use of humane, math-driven methods to determine aquatic toxicity.  

Additionally, with the passage of this bill, non-toxic products will be diverted away from incineration in favor of more sustainable end-of-life pathways such as recycling and donation. Not only will this drastically reduce a retailer’s waste bill, but it will also reduce the overall environmental impact of the product and increase its circularity. Retailers and brands can communicate this positive impact to their customers and investors to further promote their ESG strategy and goals.

aquatic toxicity
animal testing
aquatox paradox
aquatic environment
Smarter Sorting raises $25 million in funding round led by G2 Venture Partners
March 22, 2022
5 min read

Smarter Sorting raises $25 million in funding round led by G2 Venture Partners

Our $25 million investment round led by G2 Venture Partners is a testament to how we are applying emerging technologies to traditional industries.

Don’t bet against data. Data wins. Data tells the truth. Data is the pathway to a sustainable future.

This is especially true in our work to help retailers and consumer brands build a more sustainable future.

And today, we are pleased to share that Smarter Sorting has completed a $25 million investment round led by G2 Venture Partners, along with participation from existing investors.

We have come a long way since 2015, when our Chief Product Officer and co-founder Charlie Vallely promised "patented tech to disrupt the chemical waste industry."

We soon realized we could use our disruptive know-how to have an even bigger impact on the planet. Today our computational chemists, data scientists and software engineers are using our chemistry-driven, product-level data to help retailers and consumer brands reduce their regulatory liability, remain compliant and reduce environmental impact.

Making the difference that matters

We believe if companies know more about their products they can do better. We use machine learning and publicly available information to instantly and accurately determine how to best make, market and move everyday products. Our customers have increased their donations, reuse and recycling, and reduced their environmental impact. They see it’s good for the environment and makes good business sense.

What’s more, by tracking what goes where–to landfill, incineration or whether it’s donated or recycled–our customers can report financially material sustainability metrics using recognized ESG standards and frameworks.

Data is the pathway to a sustainable future

At Smarter Sorting, we’ve built a platform that can classify 2 million consumer good products across 3,500+ data point facets per product; mapping the environmental, regulatory, transport and handling requirements to the physical attributes and chemical composition of millions of consumer products. We have a codebase and set of algorithms which run 2 million chemical simulations on every product, instantly. Over 60 different machine learning models produce over 7,000 regulatory classifications. This is powerful stuff. Retailers and brands now have the data to make the very best decisions to better protect the environment.

“Sustainability stands at an inflection point in today's economy as consumers, employees, investors and government agencies now demand more accountability from corporations.

With this investment, our passionate team of math nerds, chemistry wizards and retail pros will accelerate how our customers can meet sustainability goals while, at the same time, shattering the outdated notion that doing business the right way must cost more."

- Jacqueline Claudia, CEO, Smarter Sorting

With our new investment led by G2 Venture Partners, we will accelerate our technology roadmap, scale our business operations and better serve our growing list of 24 national supermarkets, warehouse clubs and big-box retail customers, including Wegmans, Albertsons Companies, and more than 1,600 consumer brands.

Further reading

Read more about G2 Venture Partners.

No items found.
Does it pass the smell test? Nurturing the natural, by checking one ingredient at a time
March 18, 2022
5 min read

Does it pass the smell test? Nurturing the natural, by checking one ingredient at a time

Do you know the difference between ethylvanillin and vanillin? Both produce the scent we know as vanilla, but both chemicals cannot claim to be natural!

What is the difference between ethylvanillin and vanillin?

Like potatoes, tomatoes, corn and chocolate, vanilla is a plant that was uniquely indigenous to the Americas.

It was brought back to the old world in the 1520s.

Its unique smell comes from vanillin, which comes from either vanilla pods, or old production methods using plants like pine tree sap.

Nowadays, 85% of the vanillin now comes from guaiacol, or derived from various extracts.

Ethylvanillin is a better and stronger version of vanillin, created by chemistry. Ethylvanillin is a wonderful compound, with a rich history: its use in the famous Shamilar perfume by the French perfumer Jacques Guerlain revolutionized the industry!

Besides its stronger smell, ethylvanillin has many advantages: it is less expensive and made from catechol, a chemical that can be easily produced.

Does it matter whether a product uses vanillin or ethyl vanillin?

It all depends on the claims!

A product can’t claim to be be “natural” or based from “natural plant extracts” if it contains ethylvanillin: even if ethylvanillin has many advantages, like being 3 times more potent than vanillin in terms of smell and much cheaper, it’s not found in nature.

So if a product claims to be based on “natural plant extracts”, it must use vanilla, the orchid plant found in the French islands of Reunion or the beautiful Madagascar. It might also come from pine tree sap or guaiacol.

But it can’t use chemicals coming from reactions that do not use plant extracts, even if they produce a similar smell!

It may seem like geeky details, but at Smarter Sorting, we care about those geeky details: each ingredient in a product tells a story, and we keep an eye on each and every detail like that.

We make sure the story the ingredients tell us matches the product’s claims, using our advanced technology to look at all of what could be said to be small isolated details, to create an accurate overall picture that we call the Product Genome™.

Ethylvanillin and vanillin are wonderful ingredients with delighting smells. But if a product says it has natural plant extracts, we make sure among other things that it does feature vanillin, not ethylvanillin!

No items found.
No results found.
There are no results with this criteria. Try changing your search.

Subscribe for updates

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Ready to join the Product Intelligencerevolution?

See for yourself how SmarterX can help you with retail compliance, product insights, and building better supply chains.

Video game controler with Data curves