First-of-Its-Kind Study by the Composting Consortium Analyzes Contamination Rates Across U.S. Composting Facilities

By

February 28, 2024

Commonly held assumptions about contamination were put to the test, revealing new data on the realities of contamination at composting facilities.

Read the full report

February 28, 2024, New York, NY — Today, the Composting Consortium, an industry collaboration led by the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, released an unprecedented report on compost contamination, Don’t Spoil the Soil: The Challenge of Contamination at Composting Sites. The report reveals first-of-its-kind data on the amount of contamination at U.S. composting facilities, and the significant cost to manage it. Working with composters across the U.S., the Consortium’s in-field study quantifies contamination rates in feedstock and finished compost, highlighting a need for policy, innovation and packaging design to help composters improve contamination mitigation and strengthen organics recovery processes.

The report is released at a critical time for the composting industry, as pressure increases around the growing food waste crisis in the U.S. Today, nearly 40% of food is wasted and sent to landfill in the U.S.––at a loss of $430 billion––and only about 4% of all post-consumer food waste generated by Americans is sent to composters. Organics collection and infrastructure is one key solution to the crisis. To meet growing demand, the U.S. composting industry is shifting. While most composting facilities in the U.S. still only process yard trimmings, curbside organics collection has surged by 49% since 2021. Composter feedstock acceptance policies are also slowly shifting to match demand, with approximately 145 full-scale compost facilities in the U.S. now accepting food waste and some forms of food-contact compostable packaging—that packaging can be a key vessel for diverting food waste to compost, if recovered at composting facilities.

There is eagerness among compost manufacturers to be a part of the food waste solution, but concerns about contamination risks in the organics stream continue to be the one of biggest barriers to greater acceptance of food waste and food-contact compostable packaging. Concerns are increasing amidst the growing volume of compostable packaging in the U.S., largely due to look-alike, non-compostable packaging inadvertently entering the composting stream due to unclear labeling and confusion among consumers. This creates operational and financial challenges for haulers and composters, hindering further acceptance of food waste across the country.

Before the Composting Consortium released this report, there was little to no publicly available data on the amount and types of contamination in feedstock or finished compost products, or the time and money spent by composters to manage contamination at their facilities. To support the composting industry in its transition to accept food waste and food-contact compostable packaging, the Composting Consortium set out to address this data gap by conducting a first-of-its-kind study with 10 leading composters of varying sizes across the continental U.S., capturing a geographically and operationally diverse dataset on contamination volumes and decontamination practices.

The study measures and characterizes contamination across different points of the composters’ processes––and analyzes the financial cost to composters to handle contamination. The study examines five commonly held assumptions about contamination and compostable packaging, and breaks down in-field realities in a data-backed and easy-to-follow format. Key findings include:

  • Conventional plastic is the most common contaminant received by composters, making up an average of 85% of the contamination that composters receive, by volume;
  • Despite diligent efforts to combat contamination, conventional plastic can persist in the finished compost; 4 out of 10 composters in the study had trace amounts of conventional flexible plastic in their finished compost;
  • Contamination has a significant impact on the bottom line; on average, 21% of composter operating costs are spent on contamination removal;
  • Most composters had contamination, irrespective of whether or not they accept compostable packaging; several factors contribute to the levels of contamination that a facility receives;
  • Eight out of nine composters who accept compostable products in the study had no detectable amounts of compostable packaging in their finished compost.

 

The data confirms the pervasiveness of plastic contamination, and the need to further mitigate this challenge, both upstream and downstream in the composting value chain. It also highlights that more consistent and standardized compostable packaging design and labeling is needed to ensure that certified, food-contact packaging is properly sorted and recovered at end of life. In the same vein, non-compostable packaging should be distinct in its design and labeling to reduce the risk of conventional plastic packaging making its way into the organics stream. Composters must be supported and incentivized to accept food and certified food-contact compostable packaging, to ensure these materials drive value and circular outcomes to the composting industry.

“Addressing contamination is critical to paving the way for broader organics recovery as a key solution to the food waste crisis in the U.S.,” says Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “The Composting Consortium’s findings shed light on the significant opportunities––and challenging realities––of composting in the U.S. today. This study lays the groundwork for future research and investment to scale end-of-life solutions for food and food-contact compostable packaging to drive circular outcomes.”

This study is an important snapshot of a pervasive challenge that affects the compost industry. This work represents the Composting Consortium’s continued efforts to break siloes and bring together the key stakeholders––upstream, midstream and downstream––to remove barriers and advance a circular economy for organics and compostable packaging. Addressing contamination requires enhancing transparency, intensifying educational efforts and championing innovation. Additional research and collaboration across the entire composting and compostable packaging ecosystem can help pave the way for a circular future, turning food waste into a valuable resource and relieving composters from the burden of contamination.

 

About the Composting Consortium

The Composting Consortium is a multi-year collaboration to pilot industry-wide solutions and build a roadmap for investment in technologies and infrastructure that enable the recovery of compostable food packaging and food scraps. The Composting Consortium is managed by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. PepsiCo and the NextGen Consortium are founding partners of the Consortium. Colgate-Palmolive; Community Impact at Danaher; Eastman; The Kraft Heinz Company; Mars, Incorporated; and Target Corporation joined as supporting partners, and the Biodegradable Products Institute, the US Composting Council and the U.S. Plastics Pact joined as industry partners. Our compost partners for the Contamination Pilot include Ag Choice, Atlas Organics, Black Earth Compost, Dirt Hugger, The Food Bank at Dayton, Happy Trash Can Compost, Napa Recycling, Specialized Environmental Technologies (SET), Veteran Compost, and Windham Solid Waste Management District. Our advisory partners include 5 Gyres, Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), ReFED, Compost Research and Education Foundation (CREF), the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Compost Manufacturers Alliance (CMA), Eco-Cycle, University College London (UCL), Western Michigan University (WMU), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Learn more about the Consortium at closedlooppartners.com/composting-consortium/

About the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners

The Center for the Circular Economy (‘the Center’) is the innovation arm of Closed Loop Partners, a leading circular economy-focused investment firm in the U.S. The Center executes research and analytics, unites organizations to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. The Center for the Circular Economy’s expertise spans circularity across the full lifecycle of materials, connecting upstream innovation to downstream recovery infrastructure and end markets.

 

Closed Loop Partners and the U.S. Plastics Pact Release First-of-Its-Kind Report on Insights from Customers Engaging with Reusable Packaging Systems in the U.S. 

By

January 08, 2024

Key findings support the development of more effective reuse systems that meet customer needs and increase return rates of reusable packaging

Read the full report

NEW YORK – January 9, 2024 – Today, Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy (“the Center”), in collaboration with the U.S. Plastics Pact, published a first-of-its-kind report, Unpacking Customer Perspectives on Reusable Packaging, sharing new insights on customer behavior toward reuse in the U.S. The report seeks to understand customer attitudes, preferences and behaviors around reusable and refillable packaging solutions to help companies, cities and other key stakeholders navigate the current reuse landscape. To effectively address the global plastics waste challenge, we need widespread adoption of reuse systems. Understanding customer preferences is crucial for implementing successful solutions.

Since 2018, the Center for the Circular Economy has been testing diverse reusable packaging solutions in retail stores and restaurants. The Center’s Reuse Insights Lab conducts qualitative and quantitative research and data analytics through in-market testing, focus groups and customer interviews, to identify how to design and build the architecture for a reuse system that brings the circular economy to the forefront in our everyday life. In 2023, the Center’s Reuse Insights Lab collaborated with the U.S. Plastics Pact, engaging the customer bases of 16 innovators participating in the U.S. Plastics Pact’s Reuse Catalyst Program. Based on surveys, interviews and an analysis of hundreds of customers using reusable packaging across the U.S., our methodology focused on early adopter behavior. Rather than asking customers what they would do, we asked them what they already do. This allowed us to avoid the “intention-action gap” that can occur when relying solely on sentiment instead of in-market behavior.

The report shares five key insights distilled from these real-world customer experiences:

  1. Ongoing education and clear communication are vital to familiarize customers with reuse logistics and enable adoption on a larger scale;
  2. Technology can simplify reuse tracking—particularly on the backend—but too many tech hurdles on the frontend can overwhelm customers;
  3. Thoughtful design choices that balance utility, sustainability and appeal are key for reuse systems to achieve their intended impact;
  4. Choice and availability of reuse options help customers feel empowered to participate; and
  5. Reuse solutions that meet customers where they are rather than demanding perfection are most likely to support long-term habit formation.

 

As the Center works to build bridges for reuse systems, we recognize that achieving high return rates for reusable packaging is key to successful adoption. Without high returns, reuse models will struggle to achieve their intended environmental impact. However, with customers at various stages in their reuse journey, building reuse habits takes time. As brands and retailers increasingly look to reuse models as a core sustainability strategy, this timely report provides data-driven guidance on how to successfully scale reusable packaging by understanding customer perspectives and meeting customer needs.

Reuse systems are an essential part of moving away from a linear “take-make-waste” economy towards a system focused on resource circulation. However, to scale reuse sustainably and mitigate unintended consequences of low return rates, solutions must seamlessly integrate into consumer lifestyles and meet customer needs. By reporting on direct feedback from early adopter reusable packaging users, the report provides valuable intelligence on how to optimize participation by assessing real-world experiences, practical applications and perspectives. The insights aim to help both public and private institutions make reuse an accessible, everyday reality.

Kate Daly, Managing Director of Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy notes that, “We’ve reached a crucial moment to make reusable packaging a normal part of everyday life. The research in this report charts a course toward transforming reuse by starting from the customer’s point of view—understanding and overcoming the obstacles people face that stop them from developing a habit of reusing.”

Similarly, Emily Tipaldo, Executive Director of the U.S. Plastics Pact, underscores that, “If businesses and organizations can collaborate to deliver reusable options that truly fit into customers’ lifestyles, reuse can shift from occasional to habitual.”

In the coming year, Closed Loop Partners will release additional insights, building upon this research, as part of an ongoing initiative to accelerate the transition to scalable and durable reusable packaging systems across the U.S. By translating the report’s insights into practical solutions focused on optimizing convenience and value for customers, businesses, advocates and municipalities can propel a culture shift in which reusable packaging models can become the everyday norm. 

About the Center for the Circular Economy 

The Center for the Circular Economy (‘the Center’) is the innovation arm of Closed Loop Partners, a leading circular economy-focused investment firm in the U.S. The Center executes research and analytics, unites organizations to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. The Center for the Circular Economy’s expertise spans circularity across the full lifecycle of materials, connecting upstream innovation to downstream recovery infrastructure and end markets.

The Center’s Circular Insights Lab conducts quantitative and qualitative research and data analytics through in-market pilots, focus groups, iterative testing and consumer interviews, identifying circular trends, challenges and opportunities across multiple sectors and themes, including reuse.

 

About the U.S. Plastics Pact

The U.S. Plastics Pact is a solutions-driven consortium, launched as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. The U.S. Plastics Pact connects diverse public-private stakeholders across the plastics value chain to rethink the way we design, use and reuse plastics, to create a path forward to realize a circular economy for plastic in the United States.

In line with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s vision of a circular economy for plastics, which unites more than 850+ organizations, the U.S. Plastics Pact brings together businesses, not-for-profit organizations, research institutions, government agencies and other stakeholders to work toward scalable solutions tailored to the unique needs and challenges within the U.S. landscape, through vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action.

Circular Services Acquires Midwest Fiber Recycling, Expanding Services for Communities in the U.S.

By

December 18, 2023

The acquisition of a leading Midwest recycling company expands Circular Services’ holistic materials management services to support more communities and companies across the U.S.
 

December 18, 2023, New York, NY – Circular Services, a leading developer and operator of circular economy infrastructure in the U.S., announced its acquisition of Midwest Fiber Recycling, growing the portfolio of materials recovery facilities under Circular Services’ recycling arm, Balcones Recycling. This marks Circular Services’ expansion into the Midwest of the U.S., to support existing recycling infrastructure and services in the region and increase the recovery of valuable materials into domestic supply chains.

Midwest Fiber began in 1990 when founders Ron and Linda Shumaker purchased the Decatur Recycle Paper Company. Since then, with sons Mike and Todd Shumaker, they have grown the company into one of the largest recycling operations in the Midwest, with facilities in Decatur, Normal, Urbana and Peroria, IL and Terre Haute, IN. Today, Midwest Fiber services residential single-stream and commercial properties via a dedicated collection fleet. In addition, Midwest Fiber provides document destruction and recycling services and has a recycled material brokerage arm that helps generators maximize value by marketing directly to end-users. Following the acquisition, Midwest Fiber’s management team will continue to run the company, partnering with the Circular Services team and leveraging its broader platform to continue its growth trajectory.

“Todd and I waited to find the right partner,” said Mike Shumaker, CEO of Midwest Fiber Recycling. “The singular focus of Circular Services and Balcones Recycling on advancing robust circular materials management, as well as their longstanding experience operating recycling infrastructure, made them a great fit. We look forward to working alongside their team, and leading our family business into the next chapter.”

The acquisition is taking place at a critical time as more cities across the U.S. prioritize zero-waste goals, due to the combined urgency of climate risks and increasing landfill costs. Similarly, many leading corporations in the U.S. are committing to keep more materials in circulation and incorporate more recycled content in their packaging, as part of their larger sustainability and net zero goals. According to the Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative, 70% of all global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to material handling and use, making circular economy infrastructure a critical part of the solution to the climate crisis. Expanding access to recycling and reuse services will enable cities and businesses to avoid the costs and emissions of landfilling products and packaging and achieve their sustainability goals.

Circular Services operates several companies to offer holistic circular materials management services, helping municipalities and businesses close the loop on valuable materials, including paper, metal, glass, plastics, organics, textiles and electronics. Among these companies is Balcones Recycling, Circular Services’ recycling company. Prior to this acquisiton, Balcones Recycling was already one of the largest independent recycling companies in the country, handling more than 1 million tons of recyclables each year through its operations in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Arkansas. Following this acquisition, Balcones Recycling will operate 18 materials recovery facilities across the U.S., including five from Midwest Fiber.

“The Shumakers have built and led a great company with an excellent reputation as they served their surrounding communities for over 30 years,” said Tom Outerbridge, CEO of Balcones Recycling. “We are proud to join forces with Mike, Todd and their management team and leverage our collective expertise and growing portfolio of facilities to offer custom, effective recycling solutions to more municipalities, counties and small-to-large businesses.”

“We are excited to expand Circular Services and have Midwest Fiber Recycling be a part of our larger portfolio of infrastructure and services keeping materials in circulation—from paper, to plastic, organics, electronics, textiles and more,” said Amy Wagner, CFO & EVP of Business Development & Operations, Circular Services. “We look forward to expanding our services to the Midwest region of the U.S., and into commercial and brokerage services, providing more communities and companies with the infrastructure needed to reduce dependence on extraction and landfill, and advance a circular economy.”

About Balcones Recycling
Balcones Recycling is a Circular Services company. As a pure-play recycling company, Balcones is on a mission to recover all recyclables from the waste stream. As such, we design custom recycling programs focused on keeping resources away from landfills. We are known for building state-of-the-art facilities and fostering great partnerships with small-to-large businesses, counties and municipalities. We don’t stop at processing – we are active in key industry initiatives to increase the circularity of our materials and economy. We prioritize education and outreach initiatives to improve recycling participation. We love what we do and look forward to partnering with you to build a circular economy, one bale at a time. Learn more about Balcones Recycling at https://www.balconesrecycling.com/about/

About Circular Services
Circular Services is the operating group of Closed Loop Partners, a leading investment firm focused on advancing the circular economy. Circular Services provides holistic, circular materials management to close the loop on valuable materials for municipalities and businesses throughout the United States. Employing innovative technology within reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and re-commerce solutions, Circular Services improves regional economic and environmental outcomes by building resilient systems to keep food & organics, textiles, electronics, packaging and more, in circulation and out of landfill or the natural environment. For more information, please visit https://www.closedlooppartners.com/circular-services/

 

Closed Loop Partners Invests in Circular Manufacturing Company, Minus Works, Accelerating Sustainable Solutions for Cold Chain 

By

December 06, 2023

The loan from Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group will help the company scale production of sustainable gel packs, reducing waste in the shipping of perishables

December 6, 2023, New York, NY –– Circular economy-focused investment firm Closed Loop Partners announces the closing of its loan to Minus Works, a manufacturing and technology company developing circular solutions for the cold chain. Minus Works builds products to reduce waste in the shipping of perishable products, primarily through sustainable gel packs and freezing process innovations. Financing was deployed through Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic private credit arm, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, to support the company’s expansion to meet growing demand for environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastic encased gel packs, and create a new end market for recycled paper.

Founded in 2020 and based in Farmingdale, New York, Minus Works is disrupting the cold chain with their BRiQ smarter coolant, a sustainable, high-performance gel pack and freezing process for the shipping of perishables, which aims to reduce single-use plastic waste and avoid greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain. Made with recycled content paper, as well as a compostable gel interior, BRiQ serves as a non-toxic, circular alternative to single-use plastic wrapped gel packs. With freezing co-located at the gel manufacturing site, Minus Works also reduces required production space by 80%, and reduces costs and emissions associated with transportation.

Today’s standard gel packs are the biggest source of waste in the last mile cold chain, with the vast majority discarded into landfill, or contaminating the recycling stream. Most gel packs are made with single-use, non-curbside recyclable low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and use a petroleum derivative for the gel. Demand for less wasteful alternatives continues to increase as industries that are dependent on the cold chain––such as meal kit delivery services––continue to grow, and perishable packaging materials are expected to shift amidst upcoming Extended Producer Responsibility and “Truth in Labeling” regulations.

The Closed Loop Infrastructure Group has been providing flexible loans to projects that build out circular economy infrastructure and innovation in the United States for nearly 10 years. The loan to Minus Works builds on previous investments in circular economy infrastructure and technologies, including investments in the packaging manufacturing space, such as TemperPack, a leading developer and manufacturer of sustainable packaging materials. The Closed Loop Infrastructure Group aims to advance projects and solutions that keep valuable recyclable materials in circulation for longer, upgrade recycling infrastructure and strengthen end markets for recyclable material.

“Minus Works is accelerating circularity for an industry that has remained largely unchanged for half a century. We are excited about their growth potential, as well as the role that we expect the company to play as a new end market for recycled fiber markets, while reducing waste, emissions and fresh water use in the cold chain industry,” says Jennifer Louie, Managing Director and Head of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group at Closed Loop Partners. “Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group is thrilled to partner with Minus Works and to have them as a portfolio company. The company’s values mirror that of other mission-aligned organizations that we have invested in who are committed to advancing innovations and infrastructure to support a circular economy.”

“We at Minus Works see immense opportunity for building new products and introducing new processes that will disrupt the resource-intensive cold chain industry and create more circular supply chains,” says Ben Shore, Founder and CEO of Minus Works. “Since our founding, we have been working on sustainable innovations and have seen demand grow across industries, from the perishable food and meal kit delivery space to life sciences. Our partnership with Closed Loop Partners is a milestone in our continued growth. We look forward to working alongside experts in the circular economy who share our vision for less waste and a positive future for the planet.”

If you are interested in applying for funding from the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, learn more about Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic capital strategy here.

About Minus Works
Minus Works is an American manufacturing and technology company focused on bringing innovative products to the cold chain industry, including sustainable, high-performance coolant for the shipping of perishables. Learn more about Minus Works here https://minusworks.com/

About Closed Loop Partners
Closed Loop Partners is a leading investment firm advancing the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments: its investment arm, Closed Loop Capital Management; its innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy; and its operating group, Circular Services. Closed Loop Capital Management manages venture capital, buyout private equity and catalytic private credit investment strategies. Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic private credit arm, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, provides a flexible mix of financing solutions to support a range of circular economy projects, companies, infrastructure and enabling technologies. The Closed Loop Infrastructure Group deploys catalytic capital, which seeks to accelerate and de-risk the development of high-impact projects and companies. Areas of strategic investment include: providing below-market rate loans to finance circular infrastructure, providing catalytic financing to increase recovery of hard-to-recycle plastics and PET bottles, and financing and deploying small-scale, modular materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to increase recycling in communities with no or limited access to recycling. Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. closedlooppartners.com.

 

Closed Loop Partners Invests Nearly $15M in Recycling Infrastructure Upgrades Across Several U.S. Municipalities

By

November 29, 2023

The investments financed new collection carts and recycling technologies, supporting municipalities in their goals to advance a local circular economy for materials

November 29, New York, NY — Over the last year, Closed Loop Partners provided approximately $15 million in catalytic investments to local municipalities across the country, financing projects to upgrade recycling infrastructure and services across the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S. Deployed by funds within the firm’s catalytic private credit arm, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, these investments help advance the necessary infrastructure to ensure valuable materials are collected, processed and returned to supply chains at their end-of-life.

As the circular economy grows in North America, the diverse group of stakeholders that are critical to its development, including local municipalities, often lack access to the funding needed to improve recycling services––an important step to achieve zero waste goals and advance a circular economy. The Closed Loop Infrastructure Group’s first fund was created nearly 10 years ago to support these public projects and private companies, and since then has grown with market demand, expanding to four different funds that have invested in over 45 different projects to date––from new recycling carts, to recycling facilities upgrades, to innovative recycling technologies and more––keeping over 3 million materials in circulation and avoiding over 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Across all their investments, the funds have collectively been able to catalyze capital inflow from other sources equivalent to three times what has been deployed, significantly amplifying the impact generated.

Alongside innovative companies advancing new recycling solutions, municipalities have played a key role in accelerating recycling infrastructure improvements across the United States. Often a case study in the success of public-private partnerships, local waste authorities have led the way toward building more robust local circular economies. The infrastructure upgrades financed by the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group have resulted in nearly $40 million in direct savings to municipalities to date, through more materials kept in circulation and out of landfills.

Building on its wide range of investments––encompassing both municipal projects and private companies advancing circular solutions from material collection, to processing and remanufacturing––Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group provided flexible financing to several municipalities over the past year:

The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority

The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority (CVWMA) is a leading public service authority with a strong track record in the recycling and waste management space, representing counties and localities in the Central Virginia (Richmond) area. Only five of the area’s eight counties participating in the Authority’s recycling program had 95-gallon curbside recycling carts, and CVWMA sought a loan from the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund to help finance the purchase of over 90,000 95-gallon carts for the three remaining jurisdictions. In July 2023, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund provided a loan of over $4 million to fund the new 95-gallon carts provided by Rehrig Pacific, upgrading from 24-gallon bins and enabling a 5,000-7,000 incremental increase in tons of materials collected per year, with the potential to increase to ~8,000 tons per year. This was done in collaboration with The Recycling Partnership, who provided grant funding, technical support, as well as education and outreach for the upgraded recycling program.

The Waste Commission of Scott County

Scott County is the third largest county in Iowa, with the Waste Commission of Scott County serving over 25 counties in Iowa and Illinois and over 185,000 total households. The Commission’s relationship with Closed Loop Partners began nearly 10 years ago, when the Commission was first looking to finance upgrades to their recycling infrastructure services. The Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund provided funding to the Commission in 2015 and 2018 to finance new single-stream recycling carts and infrastructure improvements, respectively. The success of these investments resulted in a follow-on multi-million dollar loan in 2022 from the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, alongside the Closed Loop Beverage Fund and Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund, to finance the purchase of new optical sorters to increase and improve the existing facility’s sorting capacity. The new loan will help grow the processing of valuable recyclable materials throughout the region, including polypropylene. When installed, the equipment upgrades will provide more than 3.5 million pounds of additional capacity and allow for the recovery of an additional 900,000 pounds of materials each year.

Kansas City

Building on long-standing commitments to support recycling efforts, the City of Kansas City, Missouri sought a loan to finance the purchase of 162,000 new curbside recycling carts to increase the City’s material collections services, impacting 380,000 residents. In 2023, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund and Closed Loop Beverage Fund provided a loan of over $5 million to the City, financing 162,000 65-gallon carts from Rehrig Pacific––an upgrade from the City’s 20-gallon bins. This upgrade helps enable a 2,000-3,000 incremental increase in tons of material collected per year, with the potential to increase to 10,000 incremental tons per year. This initiative to increase collection access in the City was made possible by a collaboration among private and public partners, including Closed Loop Partners, the American Beverage Association’s Every Bottle Back initiative, Missouri Beverage Association, The Recycling Partnership, Dow and Rehrig Pacific.

The need for investments into recycling infrastructure is critical, given a misalignment between the volume of materials produced––from packaging to consumer products––and the infrastructure available to recover them, process them after use and return them to manufacturing supply chains. Over the last decade, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund laid the groundwork to solve this challenge. Moving forward, the four funds within the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group continue to deploy capital into projects that help strengthen the infrastructure needed to recover materials at their end-of-life, and increase the volume of quality recycled material to meet a growing demand for these materials and commitments toward a waste-free world.

If you are interested in applying for funding from the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, learn more about Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic capital strategy here.

About the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund at Closed Loop Partners

Established in 2014 and funded by some of the world’s largest retailers, corporate foundations, technology and consumer goods companies, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund provides below-market rate loans to finance projects that build out circular economy infrastructure in the United States. Investors include 3M, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, BlueTriton, Keurig Dr Pepper, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Danone North America, Danone Waters, Starbucks, Unilever and Walmart Foundation. Learn more about the Fund’s investment criteria and apply for funding here.

About the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund at Closed Loop Partners

The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund provides catalytic financing to build circular economy infrastructure and improve the recovery of polypropylene and polyethylene plastic in the U.S. & Canada, returning plastics to more sustainable manufacturing supply chains for use as feedstock for future products and packaging. Investors include Dow, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, Charter Next Generation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, SEE, SK geo centric Co. and SMBC. Learn more about the Fund’s investment criteria and apply for funding here.

About the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund at Closed Loop Partners

The Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund is a circular economy initiative managed by Closed Loop Partners and funded by PepsiCo, aiming to finance and deploy small-scale, modular materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to increase recycling in communities with no or limited access to recycling, reduce waste and unlock a new supply of recycled plastic. Learn more about the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund and apply for funding here.

About the Closed Loop Beverage Fund at Closed Loop Partners

In partnership with the American Beverage Association, the Closed Loop Beverage Fund seeks to improve the collection of the industry’s valuable plastic bottles so they can be made into new bottles through investments in recycling and circular economy infrastructure in the United States. Learn more about the Closed Loop Beverage Fund here.

Closed Loop Partners Acquires Majority Stake in Sage Sustainable Electronics, Accelerating IT Asset Management and Disposition Services in North America

By

November 02, 2023

Amidst the rapid growth of e-waste, Closed Loop Partners acquires majority stake in Midwest-based ITAD provider, Sage Sustainable Electronics, to advance electronics reuse and recovery

COLUMBUS, OhioNov. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, circular economy-focused investment firm Closed Loop Partners joins forces with leading IT Asset Management and Disposition provider, Sage Sustainable Electronics, as a majority shareholder in the company. The investment from Closed Loop Partners’ buyout private equity fund, the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, is taking place at a critical time, amidst the rapid growth of electronic waste, increasing corporate commitments around e-waste management and rising demand for increased transparency and data security in the IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) industry. The strategic partnership aims to accelerate the growth of Sage Sustainable Electronics and strengthen its position as a leading provider of sustainable ITAD services in North America.

Since its founding in 2014 by co-founder Jill Vaské and CEO Bob Houghton, Sage Sustainable Electronics has been at the forefront of advancing a circular economy for electronics, providing reuse and recovery solutions to businesses seeking to sustainably dispose of their IT assets.

Today the company’s clients include Fortune 100 companies across various industries, including finance, healthcare and defense. With Closed Loop Partners as a majority shareholder, Sage will have access to additional resources, a deep ecosystem of companies advancing the circular economy, and expertise to further enhance its services and expand its reach.

Houghton, a leading expert in the ITAD industry said of the partnership, “we’re absolutely thrilled to join forces with Closed Loop Partners. This marks a significant step towards advancing the circular economy within the ITAD industry. First of all, they truly share our commitment to sustainability and reuse. That, of course, is always first on our list. But secondly, this partnership enables us to further expand our reach and increase our impact.”

“Sage Sustainable Electronics’ work to safely increase reuse and proper disposition in the ITAD space is critical to ensuring valuable materials, such as IT assets, do not end up wasted in landfills or the natural environment. E-waste represents a massive loss of value that we can recover through more efficient reuse and recycling,” said Karine Khatcherian, Managing Director and Co-Head of the Closed Loop Leadership Fund at Closed Loop Partners. “We are proud to partner with the Sage team and support their continued growth as one of the leading IT Asset Disposition providers in North America.”

With a differentiated focus on electronics reuse, Sage Sustainable Electronics is committed to achieving the highest possible Reusable Yield® ratio for IT Assets. Coined by Houghton, the ratio determines a company’s IT asset carbon reduction impact. On average, Sage Sustainable Electronics securely refurbishes or ethically recycles nearly one million devices per year on behalf of its clients. Extending the lifespan of electronics not only reduces waste, but addresses climate impact and helps provide access to electronics for more people.

“Reusable Yield is the percentage of everything sent to an ITAD provider that is appropriately triaged, tested, refurbished and securely sent to another user. The higher your Reusable Yield, the higher the financial, environmental and social benefit on your retired assets. It’s what we live by here at Sage,” said Houghton.

In 2022, Sage sent 58% of its total processed devices to a second life, mitigating approximately 300 million pounds of CO2e annually according to the EPA’s Electronic Environmental Benefits Calculator. This is a result of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by preventing the creation of a new device. The impact associated with manufacturing a new device is significant––in fact, approximately 80% of the environmental damage can be done by the time a brand-new device is manufactured.

“An overlooked source of climate risk is the emissions associated with creating a new product. Keeping used materials in circulation to reduce the need for new extraction and new product manufacturing is an important part of mitigating climate impact,” said Jackson Pei, Director at Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund.

According to a 2022 report by McKinsey & Company, the biggest carbon culprit in the IT sector is end-user devices. In fact, the study found end user devices like laptops, smartphones and tablets generate one and a half to two times more carbon than data centers when created. This is exacerbated by the fact that these devices are replaced much more often, with an average refresh cycle by IT departments of two years for smart phones, four years for laptops and five years for printers.

Proactive and sustainability-focused CIOs can decrease their carbon footprints by ensuring their employee devices are destined for a second life. Sage Sustainable Electronics is uniquely positioned to meet this need through their distinct focus on electronics reuse. With a team of industry pioneers who recognize the financial and environmental value of making ITAD programs more sustainable, Sage’s systems ensure that IT assets are efficiently and responsibly kept in circulation.

Today, Sage Sustainable Electronics is well positioned for further growth through their partnership with Closed Loop Partners. “The mission and impact of Sage holds firm from the day we started this work. The tailwinds around e-waste recovery today are only increasing, and this is just the beginning of what is possible,” said Houghton.

About Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments. Closed Loop Capital Management manages venture capital, buyout and catalytic private credit investment strategies on behalf of global corporations, financial institutions and family offices. The Center for the Circular Economy unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity. Circular Services employs innovative technology within reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and re-commerce solutions to improve regional economic and environmental outcomes, and build resilient systems that keep food & organics, textiles, electronics, packaging and more, in circulation and out of landfill or the natural environment. Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. For more information, please visit www.closedlooppartners.com.

About Closed Loop Leadership Fund

The Closed Loop Leadership Fund is Closed Loop Partners’ private equity fund, which closed in 2022. The fund focuses on investing in best-in-class circular business models across plastics and packaging, food and organics, technology, textiles, built environment and the energy transition.

To learn about the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, visit Closed Loop Partners’ website.

About Sage Sustainable Electronics

Sage Sustainable Electronics, based in Columbus, Ohio also has a plant in Reno, Nevada. Founded in 2014, co-founders, Bob Houghton and Jill Vaské, are ITAD sustainability pioneers. As founders of Redemtech, their first venture, they defined best practices for the ITAD industry in security, asset management, and responsible recycling—including foundational support for the e-Stewards Certification program, the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program, and the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling.  When they founded Sage in 2014, their combined ITAD expertise and unwavering commitment to environmental sustainability resulted in an ITAD company designed with sustainability at the forefront. Their mission is to serve the following (and in this order): the planet, customers, colleagues, communities, suppliers, and shareholders.

For interviews contact

Alaina Shearer
[email protected]
614-313-8365

SOURCE SAGE SUSTAINABLE ELECTRONICS LLC

New Report from the NextGen Consortium Shares Path Forward for Paper Cup Recycling in the U.S. 

By

November 01, 2023

Insights include solutions for paper mills, materials recovery facilities, brands and communities to increase recovery of paper cups and reduce waste to landfill

Read the full report

Nov. 1, 2023 — Today, the NextGen Consortium, a leading industry collaboration managed by Closed Loop Partners, with partner brands including Starbucks, McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, JDE Peet’s, The Wendy’s Company and Yum! Brands, released a report with new findings to accelerate paper cup recycling in the U.S. The report, Closing the Loop on Cups: Collective Action to Advance the Recovery of Paper Cups in the U.S.assesses the role of each stakeholder across the paper cup recovery value chain––including paper mills, materials recovery facilities (MRFs), brands, consumers and local communities––and provides recommended actions to increase paper cup recovery opportunities and advance a more circular system.

Every day, millions of people around the world drink from paper cups. They’re safe, functional and convenient–– so much so that globally, more than 250 billion cups are produced each year. But convenience comes with environmental consequences: the majority of cups end up in landfill today. The NextGen Consortium has taken a three-pronged approach to address cup waste holistically: 1) Advancing reusable cup systems that keep materials in circulation for multiple uses, 2) Exploring material science innovation that enhances the sustainability and recoverability of cup materials, and 3) Strengthening materials recovery and recycling infrastructure that recaptures cups after use.

In this report, the NextGen Consortium focuses on the need to strengthen existing materials recovery and recycling infrastructure systems to recapture more paper cups. Recovering and recycling paper cups ensures the value embodied in paper cups—primarily comprised of fiber and a plastic liner—is recovered, rather than wasted in landfill. These cups contain high-quality fiber that is valuable to paper mills as other paper sources like newsprint and office paper decline. While the challenges for paper cup recovery and recycling are significant, collaboration among various stakeholders involved in paper cup recovery can help address its scale and complexity. The report highlights key challenges and opportunities, including:

  • Today, only about 11 percent of communities accept cups in their recycling operations. This poses a significant barrier to cup recycling, as residents have few options to properly recycle their used cups.
  • While only a handful of cities in the U.S. are officially accepting cups in their recycling programs, the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) identified more than 30 paper mills that accept paper cups in mixed paper bales representing 75 percent of U.S. mixed paper demand, and an additional five mills accepting cups in carton bales. These mills are taking recovered paper materials, including cups, and reprocessing them into new products.
  • In 2023, the NextGen Consortium, in collaboration with FPI and Moore & Associates, identified more than 15 additional mills across North America that are interested in testing cup acceptance or that can process cups today. This new interest is a tremendous endorsement for the work that is taking place and can catalyze cup acceptance at MRFs and in new communities in the months and years ahead.
  • Each stakeholder in the value chain has an important role to play in improving paper cup recycling. The report outlines key calls to action, including calling on:
    • Mills to conduct recycling tests on paper cups to determine if the fiber can be captured without any negative operational impacts at their facilities;
    • MRFs to conduct material flow studies to determine where best to site interventions for cup sortation and to collaborate with mills and communities to expand acceptable recycling lists as more mills accept cups;
    • Communities to engage with MRFs and mills to evaluate feasibility of adding cups to accepted recyclables list;
    • Consumers to bring their own reusable cups when they can and to check local recyclability options and guidance when using disposable cups;
    • Brands to source recycled paper content when procuring their cups and other packaging, among other activities.

 

“The waste generated from to-go paper cups has become a highly visible representation of our disposable, take-make-waste culture. However, these cups also are a valuable resource with growing opportunities for recovery,” says Kate Daly, Managing Director and Head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “We know that collaboration across stakeholders––from mills and MRFs to brands and cities––is going to be critical to solving this challenge and ensuring paper cups don’t end up in landfill or polluting our environment. The NextGen Consortium plays a key role in advancing the innovation, testing and partnerships needed to make this possible.”

Since its founding in 2018, the NextGen Consortium has taken a holistic and collaborative approach to addressing the challenge of single-use cup waste, advancing reuse models, exploring material science innovations and strengthening materials recovery and recycling infrastructure that recaptures cups after use. While material reduction and reuse are key pathways to reduce reliance on virgin resource extraction, end-of-life recovery pathways are equally critical to ensure that the value embodied in all types of cups, including single-use paper cups, is recovered, rather than wasted in landfill.

As the NextGen Consortium works toward its goal of eliminating foodservice packaging waste, it will continue to work to improve and align recovery and recycling infrastructure across the entire value chain, from collection and sortation to processing and strengthening end markets. Collaborative action, data-driven decision-making and iterative testing continue to be critical to closing the loop on a greater diversity and volume of valuable resources and avoiding unintended consequences. The learnings from this report aim to guide the industry towards a future in which reusing valuable materials in products becomes the commonsense norm, shaping a more circular economy.

About the NextGen Consortium

The NextGen Consortium is a multi-year consortium that addresses single-use foodservice packaging waste globally by advancing the design, commercialization and recovery of foodservice packaging alternatives. The NextGen Consortium is managed by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. Starbucks and McDonald’s are the founding partners of the Consortium, with The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo as sector lead partners. JDE Peet’s, The Wendy’s Company and Yum! Brands are supporting partners. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the environmental advisory partner. Learn more at www.nextgenconsortium.com.

About the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments: Closed Loop Capital Management, the Center for the Circular Economy and Circular Services. In 2018, Closed Loop Partners launched its innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, which unites competitors to tackle complex material challenges and to implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. Closed Loop Partners brings together designers, manufacturers, recovery systems operators, trade organizations, municipalities, policymakers and NGOs to create, invest in and support scalable innovations that target big system problems. Learn more about the Center’s work here.

How AI Could Change the Way We Think About Recycling

By The Center for the Circular Economy and the NextGen Consortium

September 11, 2023

 Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy and the NextGen Consortium launch a new study with AI technology company Greyparrot to analyze the composition of polypropylene in recycling streams

Behind the walls of recycling facilities across the U.S., a sea of materials moves through hands and machines working hard to get them to the end of the line––and the beginning of their next life. A critical balance of manual labor and automation enables the sorting and recovery of these materials in a closed loop system. Yet despite a multi-step sortation process, it is difficult to track what flows through the system at all times. It’s a challenge that results in many recycled materials losing potential value, in addition to millions of dollars worth of valuable material being sent to landfill unintentionally.

Among the diverse materials flowing through the recycling system are the yogurt containers, and iced coffee and fountain beverage cups many of us use on a regular basis. These are just a few examples of products made of one of the most commonly used resins in foodservice packaging today: polypropylene (PP). PP is a valuable material that should be kept in circulation to reduce waste and meet corporate commitments to use more recycled content in foodservice packaging. With that said, very little mechanically recycled food-grade PP actually cycles back into food-grade applications. Most end up in nonfood-grade applications that limit their value and the number of times they can be reused. To create a more circular path for food-grade PP, we must first answer the question: what is in the PP stream today, and how much of it is food-grade or clear food-grade PP?

The NextGen Consortium is a multi-year industry collaboration addressing single-use foodservice packaging waste by advancing solutions across material innovation, reuse and recovery infrastructure––and it’s working to answer that question. In the fall of 2022, the Consortium partnered with Resource Recycling Systems to examine PP bales in two materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to learn what was inside. While only a snapshot in time, the results were enlightening.

On average, nearly half of the PP bales (48%) were presumed food-grade, and more than a quarter of the bales were clear food-grade (26%). Clear beverage cups represented 14% of the bale on average. The high percentage of food-grade PP suggested that there is untapped value in the PP stream. A better system is required to ensure food-grade and/or clear food-grade PP is properly sorted into a separate bale at some point in the value chain if we are to retain its highest potential value.

This year, the NextGen Consortium is diving even deeper, launching a first-of-its-kind study leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the composition of the PP material stream well before it ends up in a bale. Together with its managing partner––Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy––the NextGen Consortium is working with Greyparrot, a leading AI waste analytics platform for the circular economy. The collaboration aims to track and categorize objects in the PP stream, and determine the volume of valuable food-grade material passing through the system. AI is on the rise as one potential means of increasing visibility into the recycling process. Today, more technologies are needed to handle an increasingly mixed stream of collected materials, including plastics, electronics, textiles and food scraps––and to enable the recovery of clean, high-quality materials.

“Ensuring that recovery infrastructure can keep pace with a rapidly growing and diverse material stream is critical to advancing the circular economy, alongside solutions such as material innovation, reduction and reuse,” said Kate Daly, Managing Director and Head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “An important part of our work in the NextGen Consortium is identifying opportunities for data collection and analysis that can advance the circularity of foodservice packaging, and drive greater value for stakeholders across the system, including brands, innovators, infrastructure operators and consumers.”

As part of this project, the Greyparrot Analyser units will be installed above the PP recovery conveyor belts at four leading U.S. MRFs: Balcones Recycling, TX; Cougles Recycling, PA; Rumpke Recycling, OH; and Eureka Recycling, MN. Greyparrot’s AI-powered computer vision system uses cameras to capture images of objects in the PP stream, aiming to quantify and qualify the materials flowing through the MRFs. Their AI model will look to categorize each object based on material, format, financial value and brand, as well as distinguish food- and nonfood-grade material, using those images. Their units will then send that data to an analytics dashboard in real-time. Through machine learning, the flexible vision systems can help improve their package recognition and classification over time.

“We use artificial intelligence to gain continuous and reliable visibility into recycling streams,” said Ambarish Mitra, Co-founder and CPO of Greyparrot. “This helps us improve recycling operations by placing waste intelligence into the hands of the people who are recovering, redesigning and remanufacturing the objects we throw away. We are thrilled to work with our U.S. partners towards our vision of a future where every piece of waste is valued as a resource.”

The collaborative project––a first of its kind in North America––will run for more than six months. During that period, it will gather data on the composition of PP bales over time, while accounting for seasonality. That insight can help determine the potential untapped value in these streams, and identify other materials that might be coming through unintentionally. This data can also help shed light on the presumed volume of food-grade material being captured in the system, along with opportunities for recovery and separation into distinct value chains. More broadly, this can advance a circular economy for valuable materials, improve material quality delivered to recycling facilities, and enhance the value of recyclable commodities shipped to U.S. end markets.

“A lot is unknown about the curbside polypropylene stream today. Filling these knowledge gaps can increase the pace of development for material recovery. Understanding the composition of the stream in a large-scale study highlights potential, reduces risk for pioneers and accelerates better design implementation. This study will be the catalyst to developing much larger-scale recycling of polypropylene,” said Curt Cozart, President of Common Sense Solutions and Technical Advisor to the project.

PP cup recovery––alongside material innovation, reuse and fiber cup recovery––is a critical focus for the NextGen Consortium. According to The Recycling Partnership, more than 2 billion pounds of PP are generated every year by single-family households in the U.S. If just 30% of this material were recovered, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 300,000 metric tons, providing over 600 million pounds of valuable raw material to companies with recycled content commitments for their foodservice packaging, both voluntary and mandated.

The NextGen Consortium has been actively involved in PP recovery since 2021, when it joined The Recycling Partnership’s Polypropylene Recycling Coalition as a Steering Committee member. Through this initiative, the group helps to fund equipment grants for MRFs so that they can effectively capture PP packaging, and improve community recycling access rates. In addition to improving recycling access, the NextGen Consortium is committed to driving recycling rates by supporting the recovery of post-consumer recycled content (PCR) that can be re-incorporated into packaging.

This collaboration with Greyparrot and MRFs across the U.S. is one critical step toward achieving the NextGen Consortium’s goals. As more data about the PP material stream is captured over the next six months, the Consortium will analyze the new data, identifying opportunities to improve PP sortation and recovery into higher value, new food-grade applications and areas where more research is needed. The NextGen Consortium continues to invite additional MRFs to participate in the project, to gain a better understanding into what is flowing through their material streams and identify ways to drive more value to the system.

About the NextGen Consortium

The NextGen Consortium is a multi-year consortium that addresses single-use food packaging waste globally by advancing the design, commercialization, and recovery of food packaging alternatives. The NextGen Consortium is managed by Closed Loop Partners’ Center for the Circular Economy. Starbucks and McDonald’s are the founding partners of the Consortium, with The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo as sector lead partners. JDE Peet’s, Wendy’s and Yum! Brands are supporting partners. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is the environmental advisory partner. Learn more at www.nextgenconsortium.com.

About the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is  at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments: Closed Loop Capital Management, the Center for the Circular Economy and Circular Services. In 2018, Closed Loop Partners launched its innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, which unites competitors to tackle complex material challenges and to implement systemic change that advances the circular economy. Closed Loop Partners brings together designers, manufacturers, recovery systems operators, trade organizations, municipalities, policymakers and NGOs to create, invest in, and support scalable innovations that target big system problems. Learn more about the Center’s work here.

Dollar Tree and Family Dollar Join the Beyond the Bag Consortium

By

June 05, 2023

The retailer aims to reduce dependency on single-use plastic bags as a Supporting Partner in the Consortium

This May, Dollar Tree, Inc. announced its participation in the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag as a Supporting Partner, alongside other leading retailers committed to reducing single-use plastic bag waste. The Consortium, managed by Closed Loop Partners, convenes leading retailers aiming to identify, test and implement viable design models to create a system that serves the function of the current retail bag, providing customers with convenient, accessible and environmentally-sound solutions. Dollar Tree and Family Dollar’s commitment to the Consortium supports their mission to make sure shoppers have the things they need in their everyday lives, and to create an experience that is uniquely convenient and affordable––while also helping reduce waste in the process.

By advancing and testing innovative solutions to reinvent the retail bag and reduce single-use plastic waste with the Consortium, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar are helping more communities gain access to less wasteful ways to bring goods home. The Fortune 200 company continues to make steps to reduce its environmental footprint, and this partnership in the Consortium is another key step toward its goals.

As a Consortium partner, Dollar Tree, Inc. will participate in the Consortium’s ‘Bring Your Own Bag’ Pilot in select cities to encourage customers to shop with reusable bags more frequently. The program also includes test strategies, such as signage, marketing and customer prompts to reinforce shopper behavior and ultimately reduce dependence on single-use plastic bags.

“At Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, we are working to ensure we play a responsible role in the communities we serve, as we bring more value and convenience to our customers,” says Jennifer Silberman, Chief Sustainability Officer of Dollar Tree. “A key part of this is ensuring that we are reducing our waste and environmental impact across our stores. We look forward to our partnership with the Beyond the Bag Consortium, as we work together to identify more sustainable and accessible solutions that serve the function of the current retail bag and reduce plastic waste.”

“Dollar Tree and Family Dollar’s participation as a Supporting Partner in the Beyond the Bag Consortium is another key milestone for expanding our collective impact,” said Kate Daly, Head of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Collaboration across sectors is a critical part of this effort. Their partnership not only further moves the needle across the retail industry, but will also increase access to less wasteful solutions to bring goods home in more communities across the United States.”

 

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Invests $10 Million in Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund, Accelerating More Capital Toward Innovation and Infrastructure for Plastics Recovery and Recycling

By

May 30, 2023

NEW YORKMay 30, 2023 — Closed Loop Partners announced a $10 million investment in its Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund from Japanese multinational banking and financial services institution Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). The investment partnership aims to advance the recovery and recycling of rigid and flexible polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics in the United States and Canada.

The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund is a key part of Closed Loop Partners’ broader strategy to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics in a circular economy. The fund focuses on PE, PP and flexible plastics––critical resin types that require additional investment to keep more material in circulation and help ensure that the industry’s demand for recycled material will be met. The fund provides catalytic debt and equity financing, spurring additional mainstream investments into recovery and recycling solutions and infrastructure that can help address bottlenecks in the recycling system. Fund performance is benchmarked according to a combination of financial and impact outcomes, including tons of PE and PP impacted, and tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions avoided or reduced.

With its investment, SMBC joins a group of leading corporate investors dedicated to the transition to a more circular economy for plastics, including Dow, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, Charter Next Generation, Chevron Phillips Chemical, SK geo centric Co. and SEE. This collaborative effort is key to advancing the recovery and recycling of plastics in the U.S. and Canada, at scale.

“SMBC is committed to sustainability, while identifying partnerships that leverage our expertise and strong footprint in the Japan and Asia Pacific region. Our team is proud to partner in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund’s catalytic, impact-first effort to accelerate infrastructure, equipment, municipal services, as well as innovation and enabling technologies related to flexible films and specific plastic types,” said Masayuki Takanashi, Group Chief Sustainability Officer (CSuO) of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. “Our commitment and partnership with Closed Loop Partners are part of SMBC’s steadfast commitment to our stakeholders, our local and international communities, the global environment, and the next generation.”

Since its launch in 2021, the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund has made several catalytic debt and equity investments to both private companies and public organizations, financing post-pilot scale projects that advance collection infrastructure, sortation capabilities, enabling technologies and re-manufacturing of PE and PP plastics, including:

  • Equity investment in Greyparrot, a leading AI waste analytics platform that links to moving conveyor belts in sorting facilities to increase transparency and automation in recycling and help unlock the financial value of recycled materials;
  • Loan to Myplas USA, a recycling company building a 170,000 square-foot plastic films recycling plant in Minnesota, aiming to process up to 45,000 tons of plastic waste annually at full capacity, diverting these valuable materials from landfill;
  • Equity investment in Circular Services, the largest privately held recycling and reuse company in North America, including major municipal and commercial contracts;
  • Follow-on loan to the Waste Commission of Scott Countya solid waste district in Iowa, to finance the purchase of new optical sorters for the county’s existing materials recovery facility.

Plastics recovery and recycling presents a significant economic opportunity, alongside the environmental upside of millions of tons of plastics diverted from landfills and the natural environment. Increasing plastics recovery, alongside material reduction solutions, scalable reuse systems and innovative new materials, can help meet an addressable market for plastics with potential revenue opportunities of $120 billion in the U.S. and Canada alone. With plastic waste expected to triple by 2060, the need for investments has grown even more urgent.

“The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund is a specialty strategy within our Closed Loop Infrastructure Group. SMBC joins our corporate partners, portfolio companies, subject matter experts and experienced Closed Loop Partners team to enhance the ecosystem effect that bolsters our private credit and equity solutions,” said Jennifer Louie, Head of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group at Closed Loop Partners. “These solutions can help catalyze additional financial participation––accelerating the projects, infrastructure and innovations needed to close the loop on plastics.”

To date, Closed Loop Partners has kept 4.8 million tons of materials in circulation and contributed to the avoidance of 10.1 million tonnes of CO2e. The firm’s vision for a circular economy includes a circular future for plastics––one that reduces the need to extract virgin resources, harnesses design innovation and material science, and champions reuse models and new product delivery models. In the global transition to circularity, all sectors, industries and societies are needed to effect systemic change. Understanding these contributions to global supply chains is necessary, as investors, innovators and cities play key roles in advancing the solutions that can drive forward a global transition to a circular economy.

Interested in applying for financing from the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund? Learn more here.

SMBC is an investor in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund. No material conflicts of interest are present as this entity did not receive any compensation for their comments.

About Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments. Closed Loop Capital Management manages venture capital, growth equity, buyout and catalytic private credit investment strategies on behalf of global corporations, financial institutions and family offices. The Center for the Circular Economy unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity. Circular Services employs innovative technology within reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and re-commerce solutions to improve regional economic and environmental outcomes, and build resilient systems that keep food & organics, textiles, electronics, packaging and more, in circulation and out of landfill or the natural environment. Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. For more information, please visit www.closedlooppartners.com.

About Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

SMBC is the commercial banking subsidiary of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc and one of the largest banks globally on the basis of total assets. It provides an extensive range of corporate and consumer banking services in Japan and globally.

About Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc.

SMFG is one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in Japan, with an established presence across all consumer and corporate banking businesses. Through the subsidiaries and affiliates, SMFG offers a diverse range of financial services, including commercial banking, leasing, securities, credit card, consumer finance and other services. SMFG’s consolidated total assets were 264 trillion Yen as of December 31, 2022.