The Need: Most brands and manufacturers have publicly committed to creating recyclable products and replacing virgin plastic with recycled plastic within the next decade. Progress against those commitments has been slow however, with manufacturers reporting that they can’t find the recycled materials they need to hit their goals. Circular.co was founded to help brands source and trade sustainable commodities like recycled plastics, easily online.
The Solution: Circular.co connects a global network of collectors, recyclers, manufacturers, and brands on one digital trading platform. Whether you’re a brand looking for reliable sources of quality recycled plastic, or a recycler looking for new distribution channels, Circular allows you to easily diversify your supply chain and enables efficient online sourcing and transactions.
Which of the Pact’s 4 Targets does your work help achieve?
TARGET 3: Undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging by 2025
TARGET 4: By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%
What makes it particularly smart or circular? Our digital platform connects the entire value chain to stimulate circularity. With Circular, brands can easily find the environmentally preferred materials they need to hit their production goals, AND recyclers can easily source feedstock from collectors. By making it easy and transparent for manufacturers to find the sustainable materials they need, we create economic opportunities for recyclers and stimulate more supply.
In addition, we take the best from proven Silicon Valley B2B marketplaces and trading platforms to offer transparent market data, online contracting, payment and logistics management. In making each step of the trading process more accessible, transparent and simple, we foster circularity.
Results, Benefits, and Outcomes to Date: Circular.co launched a few months ago and has already successfully facilitated numerous recycled plastics transactions. Many large global brands, recyclers and collectors are on onboard and offer >12M lbs. of recycled plastic per month. We also started working with many mid-sized brands who have made commitments to recycled plastics (but don’t have the resources of major brands) to help them execute on their plans and successfully make the transition from virgin to recycled plastics.
We are learning at each step how complex and lengthy large transactions can be, especially with regard to highly specific material requirements. With that, we are building a deep dataset of available solutions and providers, plus new products that will lower the barriers/risks to buying PCR.
How are you communicating your success? We are sharing our progress with all key stakeholders including employees, partners, suppliers, and media. We will proactively share case studies with U.S. Pact as they come up.
We are excited to grow Circular.co and make it easier for more companies to buy and sell recycled plastics. Our near-term roadmap includes adding a) deeper market data to help buyers and sellers make smarter decisions, b) new network tools to find and explore solutions and c) financial products to help make trading easier. Each of these products are being specifically designed to address obstacles we hear and see in the recycled plastics value chain.
Roadblocks & Lessons Learned: A few large global brands (with public commitments to use PCR) decided to not buy available matching supply due to obstacles that ranged from
These challenges are endemic to the recycled plastic industry and are major obstacles to increased circularity in our opinion. To help solve them, we offer clear transparent pricing, facilitated concierge-led price negotiation, supply/demand matching of each technical data spec, and easy to use digital communication tools. We are also in the process of developing new product offerings that will reduce price, decrease the risk of supply variance, and increase the trustworthiness and sophistication of digital communication and project management.
These obstacles and solutions follow a typical tech adoption curve, where early adopters provide feedback and get the benefits of using new systems as they are being created. Their input helps iteration to make the product easier to use with clear benefits over incumbent models.
I’d hope others can benefit from our learning and get onboard the innovation train. Digitization of the recycled plastic industry is inevitable as Industry 4.0, Web three and sustainability trends all converge.
Core Team, Partners, & Participants: We are a small growing start up, so everyone on our team of ~14 is involved, from Engineering, Design and Product Management to Operations and Sales.
Time Frame: Our product and team took approximately one year to build. We spent the latter half of 2021 in R&D mode consulting with industry experts, brands, manufacturers, collectors and recyclers to understand pain points throughout the value chain. With that context we created a concept, recruited our team who then designed and built an early version of our platform before testing it with early partners prior to full release in June, 2022.
Budget: Circular.co is funded by venture capital investment, led by Eclipse Ventures.
Quote: “Circular provides the digital tools necessary to help essential industries evolve sustainably, and become more efficient and nimbler, too. That’s a win-win.” – Aidan Madigan-Curtis, General Partner, Eclipse Ventures
Company/Organization Information: We were founded in November 2021 in Palo Alto, California, and designed our company to be fully remote, with 14 team members (incl contractors) spread throughout the Americas.