How Local Counties are Driving the Future of U.S. Recycling – and Why More Investment is Needed 

By Bea Miñana

August 17, 2022

Situated in the northwest corner of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, next to Lake Superior, Marquette County has been busy building a recycling system that works. For years, the County faced low participation rates in their recycling collection program that fed a dual-stream recycling system: one where residents had to sort recyclables themselves. Confusion among residents about what could be recycled, coupled with a facility that lacked capacity, challenged the viability of the system.  

In 2021, Marquette County’s Solid Waste Management Authority (MCSWMA) decided to make a big change: upgrading its materials recovery facility (MRF) from a 1,500-ton-per-year dual-stream facility that could only serve Marquette County residents, to an 8,500-ton-per year – and growing – regional single-stream installation. The single-stream system meant that residents could put all materials in one recycling bin, since the facility could sort the recyclables instead. The larger capacity also meant that the program could serve not only Marquette County, but also other counties’ residential and commercial recycling. Partially funded through a $3 million interest-free loan from Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund, the facility upgrade led to dramatic increases in recycling rates, improving the likelihood of materials being kept in the loop for longer, and locally. This kickstarted an improved recycling system for the County. But as Michigan’s recycling landscape rapidly changes, continued funding is needed if Marquette County’s recycling system is to evolve with it.   

What Michigan’s recycling looks like today  

Michigan is focused on developing its local economy through new manufacturing and industry – tied to its goal of building sustainable communities. Ensuring that there is robust access to recycling across the state, including processing capacity to manage the increased and changing materials flows, is a core part of this vision. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state Legislature are committed to raising Michigan’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025 and 45% by 2030, exceeding the national recycling rate of 32%. Achieving this goal requires investment across the recycling value chain – financing and supporting the scale of collection, ensuring that there is adequate capacity locally to process and sort these materials, and strengthening local end markets. Ensuring that materials are sorted and processed locally also lends itself to the state achieving greenhouse gas emissions goals, a key step to climate change mitigation.

Amidst the state’s constantly evolving materials landscape, even the most recently constructed or upgraded MRFs may be challenged to keep pace. High contamination rates continue to plague U.S. recycling systems. Materials that should not end up in the mix cause significant wear and tear on the equipment, in turn requiring regular investments from operators. Investments to fund capital equipment, technology and education are needed to ensure that a recycling system is operating optimally – keeping valuable resources in circulation and out of landfills and natural ecosystems. For Marquette County specifically, based on its facility’s design and the challenges and cost to hire manual sorters, investment in optical sorting technology is critical to moving forward. These could cost approximately $500,000 per unit, not including any potential retrofits needed. 

How Marquette County is making waves in the recycling system  

Operating with deep local roots, MCSWMA has actively sought ways to maximize the value of materials that are otherwise viewed as waste. In a state where landfill tip fees are relatively low, the County has been committed to identifying opportunities to reduce tons of material sent to landfill. This includes finding innovative ways to engage the public and raise awareness on contamination issues, especially those of biohazard waste that places their staff and team at risk.  

As a strong advocate for expanding residential recycling access, MCSWMA has also enabled discussions on recycling access at local and regional government levels. By delivering state and other recycling infrastructure grant opportunities to their municipalities and assisting in the grant process, MCSWMA was able to deploy over 10,000 recycling carts in Marquette County, improving access to their recycling program. They have also played a critical role in advancing recycling education, with their website becoming a regional resource for recycling participants. Building on these milestones, they are now working with the regional planning commission to determine ways to continuously improve recycling education, access and participation in the area. 

Collaboration between Marquette County and its neighboring counties has also been commendable. In fact, most of the tons processed at the County’s MRF is from out-of-county communities, and the team continues to strive to be a best-in-class hub for recycling in the region. The upgrade to a single-stream MRF was intended not only to serve the County’s 65,000 residents, but potentially the entire region’s population of approximately 200,000.  

In May of this year, Marquette County was given an Excellence in Recycling award from the Michigan Recycling Coalition for all their work. Additionally, they are a finalist for Resource Recycling’s Recycling Program of the Year, for counties with 150,000 or less residents. Today, they are continuing their work, strengthening infrastructure to push more materials to their MRF, and ensure valuable materials are pulled through the system. They are currently partnered with Michigan Tech University (MTU) on a proposed molecular recycling project, which could help process more challenging-to-recycle plastic materials on site in Marquette County, utilizing technology developed by MTU.  

“Previously, limited or no access to recycling and the lack of sufficient infrastructure resulted in recyclable materials being landfilled in Upper Michigan. We anticipate increased landfill diversion rates as more Upper Peninsula counties seek infrastructure funding to increase access to recycling services,” said Brad Austin, Director of Operations of the Marquette County Solid Waste Management Authority.  

Why invest in Marquette County 

Marquette County represents an important local solution to diverting valuable recyclable materials from Michigan landfills, and can serve as a blueprint for other similar programs across the U.S. The team that manages the County’s MRF, including Brad Austin, Director of Operations, is committed to building out a robust recycling system in the region.  

Today, the momentum of investments into Marquette County is strong. Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund, following its initial loan to the County, continues to build upon their partnership, closing their second (follow-on) loan to the MCSWMA in May 2022. The Infrastructure Fund’s second loan to the MCSWMA supported the purchase of a new eddy current that will not only improve the county’s mixed plastics bales as commodity markets near historically high prices for such materials, but will also allow the County to separate out valuable non-ferrous metals such as aluminum that are also able to command high prices in today’s markets.  

Beyond the financing received from Closed Loop Partners, the MCSWMA has continued to identify grant funding sources to support smaller upgrades. However, the facility has grown much quicker than anticipated, and significant funding gaps still exist for the kinds of upgrades the facility now needs. This includes additional tipping floor and commodity storage space to enhance operational flexibility, and increase opportunities to recover and market additional commodities like aseptic cartons. Optical sorting technologies, and the construction associated with installing these, is also needed to maximize efficiency and complement their sorter staff. Ultimately, investments in these types of upgrades can bring the County closer to its goal of operating an efficient facility at capacity. 

To date, investment in the County’s recycling infrastructure has proven to be a critical driver to a more efficient and resilient local recycling system. If Marquette County is to stay at the forefront of recycling, and play a key role in Michigan’s recycling goals, more capital needs to be catalyzed into the County’s recycling infrastructure to drive continued impact.  

Interested in learning more about Marquette County? Contact Brad Austin at [email protected] 

Closed Loop Partners Pledges up to $5 Million to Support Innovations from RRS NextCycle Initiative

By

April 11, 2022

Closed Loop Partners, through its Closed Loop Infrastructure Group, pledges support to Resource Recycling Systems’ (RRS) NextCycle, a customizable accelerator-style program that facilitates connections and nurtures innovation to create circular economies.

Closed Loop Partners, a circular economy-focused investment firm and innovation center, will work collaboratively with participating states in the NextCycle initiative – currently Colorado, Michigan, and Washington – to identify opportunities to provide competitively priced and flexible financing to organizations and municipalities, up to $5 million per project.

RRS, a sustainable material and resource consulting firm, manages and facilitates NextCycle. Selected teams in the NextCycle initiative receive access to business, industry, and investment experts to develop project plans, make connections with partners and funders, and cultivate investment-ready and implementation-ready projects.

“For a circular economy to be robust and economically sustainable it needs a continuous flow of recycled materials, a viable recycling infrastructure, and accessible end markets,” said Jim Frey, RRS co-founder and CEO. “By leveraging state funds and accelerating the flow of private and non-profit capital into projects focused on infrastructure, technology, and supply chains, we can help mobilize recycling efforts in NextCycle states.”

Initially, this partnership will support innovative recycling projects in three NextCycle markets – Colorado, Michigan, and Washington. Each state, through its NextCycle initiative, will identify projects that develop recovery infrastructure solutions for post-consumer recyclable materials with a focus on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and aluminum, optimize innovative collection systems for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), and divert from landfill back into the supply chain. Over the next three years of partnership, Closed Loop Partners will closely collaborate with the various NextCycle initiatives, identifying investable opportunities that advance collective circularity goals.

“Building a robust circular economy requires multiple stakeholders to be at the table. Closed Loop Partners is thrilled to collaborate with RRS and NextCycle to help identify and accelerate the most promising solutions,” said Jennifer Louie, Executive Director at Closed Loop Partners. “This partnership will continue to drive innovation and develop equitable local economies, while keeping valuable materials in play and out of landfills.”

Since 2014, Closed Loop Partners has invested in circular innovations, with an existing portfolio of more than 50 investments that have collectively diverted more than 4,600 million pounds of material from landfills and back into manufacturing supply chains. The firm’s Closed Loop Infrastructure Group deploys catalytic capital across a range of circular economy projects, companies, infrastructure and enabling technologies. Past investments include a recycling facility expansion and upgrade that included the first artificial intelligence-powered material sorting robots aimed at improving efficiency in Emmet County, Michigan, as well as a new single-stream recycling facility estimated to process thousands of tons of recyclables per year in rural Marquette County, Michigan.

More information on NextCycle can be found on the RRS website: RRS NextCycle.

 

 


 

About Closed Loop Partners 

Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity and catalytic capital, as well as an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. Investments align capitalism with positive social and environmental impact by reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions via materials innovation, advanced recycling technologies, supply chain optimization and landfill diversion. Learn more at www.closedlooppartners.com. 

 

About Closed Loop Infrastructure Group 

Closed Loop Partners’ 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. The Group manages four active funds: the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, Closed Loop Beverage Fun, Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund and Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund. Learn more here 

About RRS 

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, RRS is a sustainability and recycling consulting firm that strives to create a world where resources are managed to maximize economic and social benefit while minimizing environmental harm. The firm has industry professionals, engineers, economists, technical analysts, and communication specialists who share this vision and possess core strengths in materials and recovery, life cycle management, applied sustainable design, and collaborative action development. www.recycle.com

 

Source: RRS

PepsiCo Beverages North America Invests $35 Million to Help Close Gap In Recycling Access through investment in Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund

By

January 20, 2022

PepsiCo’s investment creates an innovative community-based recycling infrastructure model that aims to reduce waste, increase circularity, and increase availability of recycled plastic to support company’s sustainable packaging goals

Image: Example of small scale materials recovery facility: Revolution Recycling at Twin, Steamboat Springs, CO

PURCHASE, N.Y., January 20, 2022 – PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA) announced today a $35 million investment with Closed Loop Partners that will create the “Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund,” an innovative circular economy initiative to advance new small-scale, modular recycling systems in communities across the U.S.  The fund aims to increase recycling in areas with no or limited access to recycling, reducing waste and unlocking a new supply of recycled plastic (rPET), among other valuable materials, to support PepsiCo’s pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) sustainable packaging goals.

“As companies – including PepsiCo – set ambitious goals to use more recycled content in their packaging, there is more need than ever for partnerships and investments to increase recycling in the U.S. We need to develop the infrastructure that makes recycling available to more Americans so we can recover the high-quality material that can be used in our packaging,” said Jason Blake, Chief Sustainability Officer and SVP at PepsiCo Beverages North America. “Through pep+, our end-to-end strategic transformation, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. As the exclusive investor in the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund, we are actively driving the changes needed to transform the US recycling system and move towards a circular economy.”

Closed Loop Partners will use the investment to deploy small-scale modular Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in underserved communities that currently lack access to larger municipal MRFs. This gap in access is typically due to a lack of funding or geographic proximity to facilities that process the materials. The smaller, local MRFs lay the groundwork for the future of recycling, introducing a new way to meet and adapt to the various needs of communities across the U.S. These modular recycling systems are smaller and less capital intensive than traditional large-scale recycling facilities, reducing the need for the costly transportation of recycled materials to larger MRFs outside of the area. The small-scale MRFs will help recapture valuable recyclables––paper, plastic, glass, and metals––reducing waste sent to landfill and unlocking a new supply of recycled materials. Each individual system creates the capacity to recycle at least 8,000 tons per year of materials, including keeping 400 tons of rPET in circulation every year. They are also expected to yield higher quality plastic while also reducing the costs and greenhouse gas emissions  associated with the longer distance transportation of the materials.

This investment reinforces PepsiCo’s desire to create a world where packaging never becomes waste and to increase recycling rates in the United States. It aims to support PepsiCo’s goal to cut virgin plastic from non-renewable sources across our food and beverage portfolios by 50% by 2030.

“This first-of-a-kind investment from PepsiCo ushers in a new future for local recycling, empowering communities across rural America and small cities to reduce waste and harness the value of their recycled commodities,” says Ron Gonen, Founder & CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “By closing the loop on these commodities, which can then re-enter local manufacturing supply chains, we are better equipping communities with the tools needed for resilience against a globally changing climate, while also creating new revenue opportunities and jobs. We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with PepsiCo to build and strengthen circular supply chains.”

This announcement comes on the heels of a $15 million PBNA investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund, a private equity fund that seeks to acquire and grow companies, including those in the packaging value chain, to strengthen recycling infrastructure and build circular supply chains that keep materials out of landfills. These investments are part of a long history of PepsiCo partnering with Closed Loop Partners to make strides on material recovery and infrastructure advancements:

  • In 2021, PepsiCo became a founding partner of Closed Loop Partners’ Composting Consortium, managed by their Center for the Circular Economy. The Consortium brings together leading voices in the composting ecosystem in the United States to identify the best path forward and pilot industry-wide solutions to increase the recovery of compostable food packaging and drive toward circular outcomes.
  • In 2014, PepsiCo became a founding member of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, which has provided investments that cities, counties, and businesses in the U.S. use to take the steps necessary to move recycling to the next level, including new trucks for pick-up/hauling and cutting-edge technology to make materials recovery facilities work more efficiently.
  • Through American Beverage’s Every Bottle Back Initiative, PepsiCo is an investor in Closed Loop Partners’ Beverage Fund, which seeks to improve the collection of the industry’s valuable plastic bottles so they can be made into new bottles using rPET. This fund partners with other beverage companies, as well as nonprofits and NGOs like The Recycling Partnership and WWF to reduce their plastic footprints, improve recycling access, provide education to residents, and modernize recycling infrastructure in communities across the country.

 

As the Closed Loop Local Recycling Fund begins investing in community recycling, municipalities across the U.S., as well as local haulers, can reach out to Closed Loop Partners if they are interested in exploring a small-scale, modular MRF in their community.

 

About PepsiCo

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $70 billion in net revenue in 2020, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker, Tropicana, and SodaStream. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 23 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

Guiding PepsiCo is our vision to Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose. “Winning with Purpose” reflects our ambition to win sustainably in the marketplace and embed purpose into all aspects of our business strategy and brands. For more information, visit pepsico.com.

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. Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project-based finance and an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. The firm’s business verticals build upon one another, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy.

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

PepsiCo Cautionary Statement

This release contains statements that constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are generally identified through the inclusion of words such as “aim,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “drive,” “estimate,” “expect,” “goal,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “strategy,” “target” and “will” or similar statements or variations of such terms and other similar expressions. Forward-looking statements inherently involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those predicted in such statements, including future demand for PepsiCo’s products; damage to PepsiCo’s reputation or brand image; political or social conditions in the markets where PepsiCo’s products are made, manufactured, distributed or sold; climate change or measures to address climate change; changes in laws and regulations related to the use or disposal of plastics or other packaging of PepsiCo’s products; failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations; and potential liabilities and costs from litigation, claims, legal or regulatory proceedings, inquiries or investigations. For additional information on these and other factors that could cause PepsiCo’s actual results to materially differ from those set forth herein, please see PepsiCo’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recent annual report on Form 10-K and subsequent reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. PepsiCo undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

$4.2M in Grants Awarded to Improve Polypropylene Curbside Recycling for Nearly 15 Million Americans

By

August 23, 2021

In less than one year, The Recycling Partnership’s Polypropylene Recycling Coalition awarded grants to 13 recycling facilities to increase recycling access by nearly 6%.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Aug.24, 2021) – The Recycling Partnership today announced a third round of grant funding through its Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, distributing an additional $1.8 million in catalytic grants to advance polypropylene recycling and reduce plastic waste in the U.S. Launched just one year ago, the Coalition has awarded grants that will improve curbside polypropylene recycling access for nearly 6% of all U.S. households. These grants will positively impact nearly 15 million Americans through grants to 13 facilities totaling $4.2 million to date. The Coalition is a cross-industry effort supported by steering committee members Keurig Dr Pepper, Braskem, NextGen Consortium, and the Walmart Foundation, along with other members of the polypropylene value chain.

Polypropylene, sometimes referred to as PP or No. 5 plastic, is used in an array of food and non-food packaging and is in strong demand as a recycled material. Through its third round of grant funding, the Coalition will provide six grants to Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) across the U.S. to boost sortation of polypropylene and support targeted consumer education efforts. To date, the Coalition has awarded grants across the U.S. to increase the recovery of polypropylene by an estimated 13 million pounds annually to be made into new products, such as consumer packaging and automotive parts, rather than being sent to landfills, incineration, and into the environment.  The widespread interest and commitment from MRFs across the U.S. to increase the collection and sortation of recyclable polypropylene clearly demonstrates the market strength for this material nationwide and has catalyzed more than $10 million in additional private investments in polypropylene sortation within U.S. MRFs.

“In just one year, the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition has led the way to rapidly drive significant, measurable change to improve and increase the capture of polypropylene in U.S. curbside recycling,” said Sarah Dearman, Vice President of Circular Ventures, The Recycling Partnership. “The Recycling Partnership is proud to lead the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition and its meaningful work that is inspiring industry investment, supporting jobs, preserving natural resources, and activating the transition to a circular economy in the United States.”

The Coalition makes grants to MRF candidates that face challenges in their ability to effectively sort and recycle polypropylene. According to recent studies of U.S. recycling access, just under 60% of Americans have access to recycling polypropylene. With the Coalition’s strategic grants, it is estimated curbside acceptance of polypropylene will increase by nearly 6% once all equipment is installed by early 2022. This will result in more No. 5 plastic being sent to established end markets and encouraging the shift to a circular economy. Consumers in these areas will also be educated as to what is and isn’t accepted in their curbside recycling.

Domestic reclaimers and re-processors further along the PP value chain acknowledge the supply signals sent by the Coalition’s MRF grants. In response, many made investments to prepare for processing the increased supply of this material for returning it to domestic end markets. Coalition members alone with reclamation and reprocessing facilities made more than $32 million in investments over the past year to increase polypropylene reclamation capacity by nearly 800 million pounds within their North American facilities. Additional reclamation and reprocessing investments are planned or underway for 2022, as multimillion dollar infrastructure investments are still needed.

The geographic reach of the first three rounds of Coalition MRF grantees includes the Northeast, Southeast, Upper Midwest, South Central, and West Coast regions, including California. The Coalition received a strong response to each of the three prior requests for proposals and continues to accept grant applications to further its efforts to advance polypropylene curbside recycling. The next grant proposal request is due Sept. 30, 2021.  MRFs interested in sorting and recycling polypropylene are encouraged to apply.

The six newest grantees are:

  • Green Waste, San Jose, Calif.
  • Murphy Road, Berlin, Conn.
  • Palm Beach County, Fla.
  • Pellitteri, Madison, Wis.
  • Sonoco-Raleigh, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Sonoco-Onslow, Jacksonville, N.C.

 

The mission-driven work of the Coalition is supported by contributions from organizations representing all segments of the polypropylene value chain, including the Coalition’s newest members, Advanced Drainage Systems, Berry Global, Plastic Ingenuity, and PureCycle. In addition to the aforementioned steering committee members, other members of the Coalition include Campbell Soup Company, EFS-plastics, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, KW Plastics, LyondellBasell, Merlin Plastics, Milliken & Company, Nestlé, PolyQuest, Procter & Gamble, Sabert Corporation, St. Joseph Plastics, and Winpak. The Coalition is advised by industry leaders, including Association of Plastic Recyclers, former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, Closed Loop Partners, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and World Wildlife Fund.

The Coalition is part of The Recycling Partnership’s Pathway to Circularity, an initiative creating scalable solutions to packaging and system challenges to accelerate the shift to a circular economy that uses fewer finite resources.

To learn more about the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, its members, and how to get involved in supporting its goals, visit recyclingpartnership.org/polypropylene-coalition. For MRFs interested in applying for a grant, the application is available on our website.

 

About The Recycling Partnership

The Recycling Partnership is the action agent transforming the U.S. residential recycling system for good. Our team operates at every level of the recycling value chain and works on the ground with thousands of communities to transform underperforming recycling programs and tackle circular economy challenges. As the leading organization in the country that engages the full recycling supply chain, from working with companies to make their packaging more circular and help them meet climate and sustainability goals, to working with government to develop policy solutions to address the systemic needs of the U.S. recycling system, The Recycling Partnership positively impacts recycling at every step in the process. Since 2014, the nonprofit change agent diverted 375 million pounds of new recyclables from landfills, saved 968 million gallons of water, avoided more than 420,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases, and drove significant reductions in targeted contamination rates. Learn more at recyclingpartnership.org

Sealed Air Invests $5 Million in Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund to Scale Plastics Recycling

By

August 10, 2021

The catalytic Fund aims to fill capital gaps and attract additional investment toward circular solutions that combat plastic waste in the United States and Canada

Aug 10, 2021 – New York – Sealed Air (NYSE: SEE), a leading packaging manufacturer, announced a $5 million investment in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund to advance the recovery and recycling of plastics in the U.S. and Canada. This announcement follows an initial investment totaling $25 million from Dow, LyondellBasell and NOVA Chemicals, followed by a $5 million commitment by SK Global Chemical into the Fund.

SEE’s investment brings the Fund closer to its goal of deploying $100 million to advance scalable recycling technologies, equipment upgrades and infrastructure solutions. The Fund’s catalytic strategy fills investment gaps to spur recycling markets, attracting additional corporate investors and financial institutions and accelerating capital inflows beyond the Fund’s own commitments. At scale, the Fund’s investments aim to recycle more than 500 million pounds of plastics over the Fund’s lifespan.

“SEE’s investment in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund demonstrates their commitment to be a part of the solution to plastic waste, marking a critical step in building a waste-free future for the plastics and packaging industry. Their scale and deep expertise in the space allow us to extend our reach even further and encourage other companies to invest more capital to scale critical sustainable solutions,” says Ron Gonen, Founder & CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “Current supplies of recycled plastics meet only 6% of demand for the most commonly used plastics in the U.S. and Canada. By investing in recycling infrastructure and innovation, we can ensure plastics are incorporated back into manufacturing supply chains after use, instead of going to landfills or the natural environment.”

As a global packaging, technology and solutions company with multiple brands and extensive reach, SEE’s investment in the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund demonstrates leadership in shaping a future that is more sustainable for the plastics and packaging industry. This investment is part of Sealed Air’s SEE Ventures initiative that invests in disruptive technologies and new business models. SEE’s investment in this fund builds on the company’s current sustainability and plastics pledge to design or advance packaging solutions to be 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025.

“We are driving the packaging industry to a future that is more sustainable, where plastics are recovered and reused in a scalable way,” said Ted Doheny, President & CEO of SEE. “Together we can make a bigger impact, and we are proud to join other companies to invest in this Fund and help advance recycling efforts and improve the circular economy for packaging, especially flexible plastics.”

The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund, managed by Closed Loop Partners, will invest in three strategic areas to increase the amount of recycled polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) available to meet the growing demand for high-quality, recycled content in products and packaging:

  • Access – Increasing the collection of targeted (PE) and (PP) plastics by advancing current and next-generation material collection systems, including transportation, logistics and recycling sortation technologies and infrastructure.
  • Optimization – Upgrading recycling systems to more efficiently aggregate, classify and sort the targeted plastics to increase the total amount of high-quality plastics, including food-grade and medical-grade plastics, sent for remanufacturing.
  • Manufacturing – Investing in facilities and equipment that manufacture finished products, packaging or related goods using recycled content, including recycled PE and PP.

 

Since its founding in 2014, Closed Loop Partners’ existing portfolio of more than 50 investments has diverted more than 4,600 million pounds of material from landfills and back into manufacturing supply chains. Building on this, the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund will deploy a flexible mix of debt and equity financing, and will also aim to stimulate mainstream co-investments, including those from financial institutions, into circular solutions for plastics to further accelerate impact at scale.

 

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. Learn more about the Fund’s investment criteria and apply for funding here.

The Fund’s goal of optimizing recovery infrastructure is one part of Closed Loop Partners’ broader initiative of Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics. This initiative prioritizes scaling reuse and refill models and reducing material usage in design, while bolstering the recovery infrastructure to address plastics waste.

 

About Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project-based finance and an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. The firm has built an ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs, industry experts, global consumer goods companies, retailers, financial institutions and municipalities, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy.

 

About Sealed Air

Sealed Air (NYSE: SEE) is in business to protect, to solve critical packaging challenges, and to make our world better than we found it. Our packaging technology, solutions, and systems create a safer, more resilient and less wasteful global food supply chain, enable e-commerce, and protect goods transported worldwide.

Our globally recognized brands include CRYOVAC® brand food packaging, SEALED AIR® brand protective packaging, AUTOBAG® brand automated systems, BUBBLE WRAP® brand packaging, and SEE Automation solutions.

SEE’s Operating Model, along with industry-leading experts in materials, engineering, technology, and science are driving our innovative solution systems to be more sustainable, automated, and digitally connected.

SEE is leading the packaging industry to create a more environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable future and has pledged to design or advance 100% of its packaging materials to be recyclable or reusable by 2025, and a bolder goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions in its global operations by 2040.The company is also committed to a diverse workforce and inclusive culture through its 2025 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion pledge.

SEE generated $4.9 billion in sales in 2020 and has approximately 16,500 employees who serve customers in 117 countries/territories. To learn more, visit sealedair.com.

 

JS Capital Management Acquires Minority Stake in Closed Loop Partners, the Leading Circular Economy Investment Firm & Innovation Center

By Closed Loop Partners

December 10, 2020

This investment further validates the business case for an accelerated transition to a circular economy and supports Closed Loop Partners in its continued expansion

Dec 10, New York — Today, Closed Loop Partners announced that JS Capital Management, the private investment firm led by Jonathan Soros, has acquired a minority stake in Closed Loop Partners, the New York-based investment firm and innovation center focused on building the circular economy. JS Capital’s investment expands the firm’s existing partnership with Closed Loop Partners. In 2018, JS Capital became a limited partner across Closed Loop Partners’ funds and an active co-investor.

Closed Loop Partners’ asset management division is comprised of venture capital, project finance, growth equity and private equity. To date, the firm has invested in over 40 companies across sectors, including consumer products and packaging, fashion, food and agriculture and technology. Investors in Closed Loop Partners’ funds include the world’s largest retailers, consumer goods and technology companies, financial institutions, family offices and foundations. Closed Loop Partners’ innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, works across brands, countries and industries to create the systems change necessary for the advancement of the circular economy through research, analysis and collaboration.

According to Jonathan Soros, “Ron Gonen and Closed Loop Partners have been pioneers as investors and thought leaders in the circular economy. Their networks and expertise are unparalleled in the field.”

“With an exceptional investment track record and deep commitment to a sustainable future, JS Capital makes an ideal partner for the next chapter of our growth,” says Ron Gonen, Founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners.

A circular economy offers a viable business framework to reduce costs, increase efficiency and protect the environment we share, benefiting people, the planet and business. At a time when climate change and sustainability are no longer top of mind for only waste-conscious consumers, but for investors, brands and governments across the globe, business as usual must change to avoid the economic, social and environmental risks of climate inaction.

About Closed Loop Partners

Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity and project finance, as well as an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. The firm has built an ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs, industry experts, global consumer goods and technology companies, retailers, foundations, financial institutions and municipalities. Their investments align capitalism with positive social and environmental impact by reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions via materials innovation, advanced recycling technologies, supply chain optimization and diversion of materials from landfills. Learn more at www.closedlooppartners.com.

North America’s Unique Journey Toward Circularity

By Kate Daly

October 09, 2020

Last week, I (virtually) joined more than 5,000 business leaders, policymakers and circular economy enthusiasts from across the globe for the digital World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), convened by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. It’s been four years since WCEF’s first convening, and it was inspiring to see the continued momentum and global interest in advancing circularity. This year was the first time WCEF was to be held in North America, reflecting the growing tide of interest here. I was happy to have the opportunity to join the events and speak to the nuances specific to our region in our journey toward circularity.    

Elements of the circular economy have existed within North America for centuries, under different names: indigenous stewardship, industrial ecology, recycling, cradle to cradle, environmental justice, remanufacturing. For the new circular economy to flourish in North America, we must commit to building on this knowledge, in addition to adapting successful international models to our own North American cultures and governing systems.

While here in the U.S and Canada we don’t have the same type of unifying mandates prevalent in the European Union, business and investors are not waiting around for national legislation. They’re deploying capital, and identifying new business models and opportunities for collaboration. Many corporations are setting ambitious goals and doing the difficult work of identifying how circularity can become an integrated part of their bottom line. And in the absence of national legislation or funding, some cities are launching zero waste mandates and circular business accelerators to turn waste into resources and create local jobs. Innovation, investment, policy and above all partnership are the key drivers of the new economic model in the U.S. and Canada, and digitization is a key enabler. And in all of this we must together ensure that the new systems put into place don’t perpetuate the negative outcomes of the old ones, where low-income communities are disproportionately affected by the environmental burdens of pollution and waste.

In our most recent report, The Circular Shift: Four Key Drivers of Circularity in North America, we at Closed Loop Partners drew on our experience as researchers, operators and investors in the circular economy to illustrate the momentum and headway made thus far. Both the public and the private sector are responding to changing consumer preferences, increasing demands for better outcomes for local communities, and regulatory pressures. And it’s the cutting edge sustainable innovations and growing investment opportunities that provide a path forward toward circularity.

We’re in an age of experimentation, perfecting reusable and refillable packaging models, renting rather than buying clothing, and transferring ownership of products and packaging back to their producers.  There are many reasons to be optimistic, and the time for action, critically, is now. The clock is ticking on our current linear economic system and the circular economy offers a viable and much-needed solution: a robust framework that aligns the interests of shareholders, corporations, local communities and the environment, and is underpinned by core principles of resource efficiency, inclusiveness and resilience.

Together, we all have a role to play to catalyze inclusive approaches to systems change that shift us toward a better, more circular economy that’s business-led and community-led. There is no question that it will require unexpected and unprecedented collaboration, but personally I’m encouraged by the progress made to date and I look forward to what lies ahead of us in North America and beyond.

Closed Loop Partners Launches Report on Unprecedented Shifts in the Circular Economy in North America

By

September 23, 2020

The report explores the sea change underway as four key drivers – market forces, recent innovations, changing policy and groundbreaking partnerships – push circularity forward

Read the full report

New York, Sept 24 – Today, Closed Loop Partners’ innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, announced the release of its timely report, The Circular Shift: Four Key Drivers of Circularity in North America. The report highlights critical trends driving circularity in the region, putting circular economy solutions at the center of business strategy, innovation development, policy changes, and new institutional partnerships.

The tumultuous events of 2020 have shed light on the importance of strong, stable, transparent systems, exposing the risks of overcomplicated, opaque supply chains and the limitations of continually extracting finite resources. In North America and around the world, supply chain disruptions, growing amounts of waste, and health and safety risks have called attention to the flaws of business-as-usual. As these challenges come to the fore, the urgency of rethinking systems that throw $10 billion worth of resources into U.S. landfills has increased. With growing investments and interest in less wasteful systems, the circular economy in North America is in the midst of a sea change.

Since 2014, Closed Loop Partners has been operating and investing in the circular economy, finding opportunities in the space and supporting its rapid growth across the U.S. Drawing from the firm’s investment intelligence and its Center’s research, the report delves into the Four Key Drivers of the Circular Economy in North America, exploring how innovation, investment, policy and partnership act as key enablers of the emerging economic model.

These factors shape and strengthen the landscape for circularity as investable opportunities have noticeably advanced, with momentum and innovation in the space growing rapidly. Capitalizing on the circular economy ultimately promises to recapture business value, offering a $4.5 trillion global opportunity by 2030, according to Accenture. Unexpected partnerships and visionary policy will be essential to accelerate the shift toward an economic model that is enduring, and able to withstand future shocks.

Against the backdrop of this year’s NYC Climate Week, the link between the circular economy––the reduction of both extraction of raw materials and of waste––and the consequences of climate change have never been stronger, or more apparent. The circular economy is not a singular solution, nor a short-term fix. To achieve circularity goals, such as decarbonization and dematerialization, change must be sweeping and collaboration must be far-reaching. Much like environmental solutions must include every stakeholder in the path forward, so must the circular economy.

“The clock is ticking on our current linear economic system and the circular economy offers a path forward: a robust framework that aligns the interests of shareholders, corporations, local communities and the environment,” says Kate Daly, Managing Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. This report builds on the achievements to date and the necessary actions to move forward, underscoring the urgency of focused investment, innovation opportunities, policy change and unexpected collaborations to achieve system-wide change.

 

 

Fortune 500 Brands & Corporate Foundations Extend Over $54 Million in Capital Commitments with Closed Loop Partners

By Closed Loop Partners

June 30, 2020

Investment will support urgent need for additional recycling infrastructure and the development of end markets, keeping valuable materials in circulation across the U.S.

New York, NY — Closed Loop Partners today announced that some of the world’s largest consumer brands and corporate foundations are extending more than $54 million in capital commitments with the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund (CLIF). This extension is testament to the progress CLIF has made over the last five years toward building a more circular economy and the sense of urgency from these brands to accelerate their circular economy goals and support the transformation of the recycling system.

Today, the original nine investors in the fund – 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Keurig Dr. Pepper, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and The Walmart Foundation – are extending their capital commitments, strengthening their investment in the infrastructure needed to build a more circular economy. Amazon, Danone North America, Danone Waters of America, Nestlé Waters North America and Starbucks have since joined the fund. Together, these companies’ major investments support additional recycling infrastructure and spur growth and technological innovation around end markets for post-consumer materials across North America. No company will be able to address the issue of plastic waste alone, and we need the industry to collectively work together to accelerate circular supply chains and keep materials in play.

With a global pandemic, growing climate risks and increasingly tighter municipal budgets, continued investment is critical to build our recovery infrastructure and economy back in a way that builds good job opportunities and safe and robust recovery systems to manage the critical inputs to product and packaging supply chains. And today, these brands show their shared commitment toward building back better and creating more efficient and effective systems to turn their product and packaging waste back into the inputs to future manufacturing.

The corporate investors in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund have proven the value created from investing in the circular economy. We invite other companies, brands and investors to join these industry leaders by investing with us in the infrastructure and technology needed to keep materials in manufacturing supply chains and out of landfills and marine environments – Ron Gonen, CEO of Closed Loop Partners.

The initial investment from these brands has already leveraged more than $200 million in co-investment, supporting the development of domestic recycling infrastructure, local jobs and new markets in cities across the country, including:

  • Eureka Recycling, Minneapolis, Minnesota: A locally operated nonprofit social enterprise, Eureka recovers nearly 100,000 tons of primarily residential recycling per year. This diverts valuable material from the incinerator or landfill and protects the health and environment of the local community. Eureka prides itself on its best-in-class operation, producing high quality material; the facility has one of the lowest contamination rates in the country. Eighty percent of the facility’s material stays in Minnesota and ninety percent in the Midwest, further spurring local growth. Eureka Recycling works everyday to demonstrate that waste is preventable not inevitable.
  • Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), Florida: Since building its own state-of-the-art single stream facility, the ECUA materials recovery facility has become an asset for a region that had not previously had a long-term or reliable solution for processing recyclables. The facility generates economic benefits in the form of avoided tipping fees and revenue from commodity sales. For the 21-month period starting in January 2017, the facility generated $4.2 million in economic benefits. To date, the facility has operated at a profit margin between 10% and 30%, which gives ECUA capital to invest in other critical water, sewage, and solid waste infrastructure and programs.
  • TemperPack, Virginia: On the forefront of materials science innovation, TemperPack manufactures proprietary plant and fiber-based insulated packaging solutions for cold chain shipments, perishable food and pharmaceuticals. Their products replace the need for styrofoam, a type of plastic that contaminates recycling facilities. Instead, TemperPack’s solutions are certified curbside recyclable, bringing value to recovery systems across the U.S. as their materials are kept in circulation.

 

Today’s reinvestment announcement builds on the success of these projects and will fund similar projects to accelerate and build circular supply chains. Thirty-seven of the world’s largest consumer brands and retailers, including many of those fueling this investment, have made public commitments to use recycled plastics in their packaging within the next ten years. This signals the opportunity to shift billions of dollars from the “take, make, waste” linear supply chain to circular supply chains. Current projections indicate new real demand of 5 million to 7.5 million metric tons of recycled content by 2030, requiring an increase of supply of 200-300%. It will only be possible to meet this need through greater collective investment from brands to move technology along faster.

Brands and investors interested in learning more about CLIF or getting involved should contact [email protected]

Quotes from Our Investors

By connecting the dots across the entire value chain, Closed Loop Partners is committed to keeping valuable materials in play. With our ambitious goals around recyclability in practice and at scale, as well as the use of recycled content in our products, we need companies like Closed Loop Partners to continue to increase the efficiency of supply chains so that we can access more recycled content. The demand is there, but the supply side needs investment and that’s why we’re reinvesting our capital with Closed Loop Partners. Let’s continue the good work! – Ann Tracy, CSO, Colgate Palmolive

Keurig Dr Pepper’s business is fueled by the power of partnerships which we use to drive positive impact.  We signed on as original investors in Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund to address waste and pollution in North America. As the waste system and potential solutions continue to evolve, there is still work to be done. Today we are recommitting to the important work being done by CLP and our co-investors by reinvesting in the Infrastructure Fund and continuing to strengthen domestic recycling capacity and technology across the country – Monique Oxender, Chief Sustainability Officer, Keurig Dr Pepper

We joined the Closed Loop Investment Fund as a founding member because it is an innovative impact investment opportunity that we believe will increase access to recycling infrastructure across the U.S. Based on the rigorous performance criteria for the Fund, it has been a wise investment decision for our company and we have decided to reinvest for another five-year term. The Fund has shown how industry leaders can come together to advance the circular economy and create a more sustainable future – Paulette Frank, VP, Environmental Health, Safety & Sustainability, Johnson & Johnson

At 3M, Science for Circular is one of our top sustainability priorities and we are committed to advancing design solutions that do more with less material. To reach our targets and promote a global circular economy, we need to ensure recycled materials are widely available. Closed Loop Partners is on the front lines of this work and their investment in recycling facilities across the country has driven much needed growth. We are proud of our continued collaboration and aim to build on the momentum we are seeing in the recycling sector to create a better future – Gayle Schueller, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, 3M

At Coca-Cola we care about the environment and the natural resources we all share. That’s why we set a global goal to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can we sell globally by 2030. We know we can’t reach this goal without significant partners like the Closed Loop Fund who are helping to address the gaps in the domestic recycling system. We’re excited to continue our investment in the Closed Loop Fund and support their meaningful progress to optimize and upgrade recycling infrastructure as we work to realize our vision for a World Without Waste – Bruce Karas, Vice President, Safety and Sustainability, Coca-Cola North America

At PepsiCo, we’re striving to build a world where plastic need never become waste by reducing, recycling and reinventing our packaging. But we know we can’t do it alone. Through our investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Fund, recycling facilities across the country are being improved, helping give new life to materials and driving sustainable change. We are committed to building a circular future for packaging and know that impact at scale requires partnerships like this – Tim Carey, Vice President of Sustainability, PepsiCo Beverages North America

Now more than ever we are committed to making a positive impact on society and the environment. Strengthening and developing recycling infrastructure across North America is a critical part of this. Closed Loop Partners’ investment track record proves that investing in the development of the circular economy is not only environmentally beneficial but also good for the economic recovery. Increased access to recycling creates thriving communities, spurring innovation in end markets, getting materials back into supply chains for reuse and creating a healthier environment – Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, Procter & Gamble

Our plastics commitments include halving our use of virgin plastic and collecting and processing more plastic than we sell by 2025. Investing in recycling infrastructure is key to both of these goals, and Closed Loop Partners helps make it possible to support a circular economy for plastics. Our vision is a world where everyone works together to keep plastic within the circular economy and out of the environment – Viviana Alvarez, Head of Sustainability for Unilever North America

The plastics value chain needs to be rewired for circularity, and innovation and infrastructure investments are needed to seriously address the plastic waste issue in the United States. We are proud to be a lead investor in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund to continue to advance waste reduction solutions in communities across the country – Chelsea Scantlan, Senior Program Officer, The Walmart Foundation 

 

 

 

 

About Closed Loop Partners
Closed Loop Partners is a New York based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project finance and an innovation center. The firm invests in the circular economy, a new economic model focused on a profitable and sustainable future. In 2014, Closed Loop Partners established the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund (CLIF) that provides zero interest and below market rate loans to companies and municipalities building recycling and circular economy infrastructure in North America. Investors in CLIF include Amazon, 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Danone North America, Danone Waters of America, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Keurig Dr. Pepper, Nestlé Waters North America, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Unilever and The Walmart Foundation. Learn more at www.closedlooppartners.com.