Why We Invested in Found Energy: The Importance of Circular Energy Solutions

By Danielle Joseph

November 27, 2023

At Closed Loop Partners, we focus on investing in the circular economy––advancing solutions that reduce waste through material reduction, alternative materials, reuse and end-of-life solutions like recycling. 

Through our work, we help reduce the 45% of all emissions derived from the way we make and use products––and where relevant to materials management, we also address the 55% of emissions that are tied to energy production.

Our most recent investment through the Closed Loop Ventures Group in Boston-based company Found Energy embodies this crossover between energy production and materials management. Found Energy upcycles contaminated aluminum into clean hydrogen fuel, while also returning the aluminum to its pre-processing state, creating a fully circular loop for the material. By treating aluminum scrap with a catalyst and then activating it with water, Found Energy creates 1) energy in the form of hydrogen and steam and 2) alumina trihydrate (ATH), a raw material used to manufacture aluminum.

The process unlocks two major benefits:

  • Onsite Energy Generation: Any equipment manufacturer, processor or even materials recovery facility can produce their own on-site, clean hydrogen fuel and steam using energy dense aluminum as a means of energy storage. On-site production helps alleviate the challenge of expensive hydrogen transportation and storage.
  • Upcycling: Aluminum alloys otherwise destined for downcycling may be reintroduced into the supply chain as alumina trihydrate that can then be processed into virgin-grade aluminum.

Why does aluminum recovery matter?

Aluminum is already one of the most abundantly recycled metals on the planet and can be recycled many times over. More than other classes of recyclables, there is broad consumer participation in aluminum recovery (by recycling cans), and the prevalence of aluminum as a lightweight structural element in manufactured goods (such as automobiles and appliances) means that ample end-of-life aluminum is processed every year. In fact, 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today. Recycled aluminum only takes ~5% of the energy needed to make new aluminum and reduces the need to mine for bauxite––the most common ore needed for aluminum.

However, while recycling rates for aluminum are generally high, they differ substantially by product, alloy and region, ranging from as low as 20% to as high as 80% for some packaging products. We have learned that in the depths of smelters, aluminum recycling is limited to recovery within established alloy classes (meaning two or more metals or a metal with another non-metallic addition). Given that aluminum is 2x more energy dense than diesel and 5x more energy dense than methanol, there is value in finding opportunities to keep more aluminum in circulation as both a material and energy source.

The main challenge with recovering scrap aluminum is removing tramp elements, which cannot be separated easily by current smelting processes given the high melting temperature of aluminum (660° C). This means contaminated aluminum is often downcycled or ends up in landfills.

Found Energy has discovered a clean energy solution for scrap aluminum, working at the intersection of circular economy principles and the clean energy transition. After building this technology for years during his time at MIT and motivated by his work at NASA, co-founder and CEO Peter Godart brought Found Energy to life in 2022.

Unlike other energy solutions we have seen, Found Energy considered end-of-life from the very beginning of their development process, while using scrap aluminum as a wholly recoverable material source for energy generation plus storage. We fully support the transition to renewable feedstocks for clean energy, while recognizing that the structures required to facilitate clean energy transfers, like solar panels and wind turbines, often utilize extractive or single-use resources that frequently end up in landfill after they are decommissioned. We believe that it is better both economically and ecologically to keep these materials in circulation, and up until recently, had yet to find an energy technology that is inherently circular––inclusive of the materials used in the machinery and the renewable feedstock.

We were impressed with the elegance of a solution that uses a ubiquitous metal as a novel hydrogen source, is highly mobile, and can be distributed. Distributed assets will continue to be a priority in places where heavy materials would otherwise be transported long distances, or where permitting and absence of transmission infrastructure can keep manufacturing operations from scaling up their energy loads as needed.

To create a truly waste-free future for renewable energy, we must support the circularity of materials, alongside clean energy innovation. Reducing carbon through circular processes like material recovery and re-manufacturing is critical to reaching our CO2e mitigation goals and living in an ecosystem that is resilient to further climate shocks. Found Energy is helping pave the path forward.

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. The firm’s venture capital group, the Closed Loop Ventures Group, has been investing early-stage capital into companies developing breakthrough solutions for the circular economy since 2016. The Closed Loop Ventures Group’s portfolio includes companies developing leading innovations in material science, robotics, agritech, sustainable consumer products and advanced technologies that further the circular economy. Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. closedlooppartners.com.

About Found Energy

Found Energy is a Boston-based company building rechargeable aluminum fuel power systems aimed at eliminating carbon emissions from heavy industrial applications ranging from industrial heating (7% of global CO2 emissions) to maritime shipping (3% of global CO2 emissions). Building off technology developed at MIT that enables metallic aluminum to split water, our energy delivery systems safely generate hydrogen and/or industrial heat on-site at >5x the volumetric energy density of liquid hydrogen, >3x that of methanol and ammonia, and >25x that of Li-ion batteries. By integrating storage, transport, and generation into a single package, our technology solves some of the biggest pain points in renewable energy transmission and storage.

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


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]


How Closed Loop Partners’ Multi-Million Dollar Investment in LRS Is Expanding Recycling Infrastructure and Access in Chicago


August 16, 2023

This is Closed Loop Partners’ third loan to LRS, which will support the Exchange, its newly constructed materials recovery facility, accelerating materials circularity in the third largest city in the U.S.

When Closed Loop Partners provided its first loan to LRS almost 10 years ago, the leading recycling company was already making waves to advance materials circularity in the Chicagoland area. Operating in the third largest city in the U.S., home to 2.7 million people, LRS has faced significant opportunity to recover valuable materials and expand recycling access at scale, and has been at the forefront of this work, strengthening the recycling infrastructure needed to advance the circular economy. Over the last several years, LRS made critical advancements in its growth, supported by catalytic capital from circular economy investment firm, Closed Loop Partners. Today, LRS, the largest recycling company in the Chicagoland area, has reached another pivotal moment of growth: a newly constructed materials recovery facility (MRF) in the heart of Chicago, the Exchange. Supporting the newly constructed MRF, and the innovative technology housed within it, is a multi-million dollar loan from Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group.

The Closed Loop Partners team at LRS’s ribbon cutting ceremony; photo credit: Closed Loop Partners

Pictured left to right: Jennifer Louie (CLP), Kate Krebs (CLP), Ray Hugel (CLP)

The state-of-the art MRF is now operational and expected to divert 224 million pounds of recycled material per year. It will house cutting-edge system components, including new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered equipment and other technologies to advance efficient materials sortation and recovery in the Chicagoland area. The loan is closing at a critical time, as infrastructure upgrades and innovative technologies are needed to handle an increasingly mixed stream of collected materials, including plastics & packaging, textiles and food scraps. AI and automation play an important role in improving material sortation and reducing contamination across different material streams, enabling the recovery of clean, high-quality materials. The AI-powered sortation technology to be integrated at the Exchange will enable LRS to sort polypropylene (PP) plastic for the first time in the Chicagoland area, including cold to go cups and yogurt containers. The new automated technology is also expected to mitigate labor risks at the facility, as well as add new jobs to manage the new equipment––increasing job quality and safety.

LRS Exchange Facility – LRS employees celebrate the grand opening of The Exchange materials recovery facility, which created 50 new full-time jobs in the city; photo credit: Sean Kennedy/LRS

This is Closed Loop Partners’ third loan to LRS, building on a robust track record between the two entities. The investment firm’s first and second loans to the recycling company contributed to the growth of their operations at a critical moment, helping enable them to win the collection rights of recyclable materials in three additional Chicago Blue Cart recycling zones. This new loan, provided by three catalytic funds within Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group––the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund and Closed Loop Beverage Fund––helps expand LRS’s capacity, as the Exchange will process recyclable material collected from all six of Chicago’s Blue Cart zones, sorting material for approximately 430,000 households, encompassing over one million people. The Exchange’s expanded capacity will also enable LRS to collect material from other areas surrounding the city, reducing landfilling and providing recycling access for more communities.

“This is a key moment of our expansion, as we extend our reach and impact across the Chicagoland area,” says John Larsen, chief operating officer, LRS. “This loan to support our new facility helps us serve even more households in the area, and sort and process more valuable materials––including polypropylene, for the first time in the region. Closed Loop Partners has been a key part of LRS’s meaningful growth over the years and we are proud to work with their team again in this work to recycle even more valuable materials and reduce waste.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony for LRS’ new $50 million materials recovery facility (MRF) in Chicago, IL; photo credit: Sean Kennedy/LRS

Pictured left to right: Emily Olsen-Torch (LRS), David Fass (Macquarie), Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Cole Stallard, Rich Golf (LRS), Chief Operating Officer John Larsen (LRS), Cook County Commissioner John Daley, Executive Vice President John Silwicki (LRS)

Over the last nearly 10 years, Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group––the investment firm’s catalytic capital group––has played a key role in identifying and advancing novel technologies and infrastructure development to help private companies and municipalities keep more materials in circulation and out of landfills. Funded by many of the largest consumer goods, technology and material science companies, the catalytic strategy aims to accelerate further investment into materials circularity and drive net positive environmental and social outcomes. To date, the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group has helped keep approximately three million tons of material in circulation across 30 private loans and 15 municipal loans.

The loan to LRS is a milestone for Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic capital funds participating in the financing:

Aligned with the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund’s goal to improve efficiencies in circular economy infrastructure, the loan to LRS will significantly expand processing capacity in the Chicagoland area;

Further aligned with the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund’s goal to advance the recovery and recycling of plastics, the new equipment at the Exchange will capture and separate PP from the stream, with an expected rate of 650 tons of PP collected per year;

Finally, as the Closed Loop Beverage Fund, in partnership with the American Beverage Association, aims to improve the circularity of PET, a critical plastic to the beverage industry, the loan will help reduce LRS’s residue rate in the Chicagoland area, which will enable an increase in other salable commodities annually, including PET for bottle-to-bottle applications. This investment is part of the beverage industry’s Every Bottle Back initiatve, an integrated and comprehensive partnership between America’s leading beverage companies––The Coca-Cola Company, Keurig Dr Pepper and PepsiCo––to reduce the industry’s use of new plastic. The loan is expected to unlock at minimum an additional 150 tons of PET per year.

“One of our industry’s highest priorities is to create a circular economy for our bottles and cans. We are taking action at every step to make sure they are remade as intended,” said Kevin Keane, interim president and chief executive officer of American Beverage. “Chicago is a great and innovative American city. It is exciting to partner on a significant project that will serve to enhance its beauty, environment and quality of life. America’s leading beverage companies are carefully designing our bottles to be 100% recyclable and investing in modern recycling systems to reduce our plastic footprint and keep plastic out of nature. We are excited to continue that work here in Chicago and thank everyone who made this investment a reality.”

“As the circular economy grows across North America, companies that are vital to its development require access to financing to upgrade technology and expand capacity. Closed Loop Partners’ Infrastructure Group is proud to support leading private and public organizations advancing material circularity through upgraded infrastructure and innovative technologies,” says Jennifer Louie, Managing Director of the Closed Loop Infrastructure Group at Closed Loop Partners. “LRS has been a leader in developing the infrastructure needed to accelerate materials circularity in the Chicagoland region. We are thrilled to be working with their team to advance circularity in one of the largest cities in the U.S., keeping more materials in circulation and serving more communities.”

As LRS enters its next phase of growth, Closed Loop Partners will work closely with the LRS team to integrate new technologies into the facility and bolster potential end markets for materials recycled by the facility, helping establish more robust circular systems in the region.

Learn more about Closed Loop Partners’ catalytic capital strategy here.

The testimonials provided are from current clients and Limited Partners of Closed Loop Partners. No compensation was provided for the statements, and the statements do not present any material conflicts of interests. 

Global Corporations Join Brookfield to Invest Nearly a Billion Dollars in Closed Loop Partners’ Operating Company, Circular Services, the Leading Developer of Circular Economy Infrastructure

By Closed Loop Partners

March 16, 2023

NEW YORK, March 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In late 2022, Closed Loop Partners and Brookfield Renewable (“Brookfield”) announced the establishment of Circular Services, a leading developer of circular economy and recycling infrastructure in the United States. Today, Closed Loop Partners announces that six leading companies, Microsoft, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SK Group, Starbucks and Unilever, are joining Brookfield to invest in scaling circular economy infrastructure and services. Commitment in Circular Services now reaches nearly a billion dollars, building on investments from Brookfield, as well as from the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund and the Partnership Fund for New York City, marking a significant milestone in the transition to the circular economy, as more institutional and corporate capital is catalyzed to advance circularity at scale.

Circular Services is the largest privately held recycling company in the United States, focusing on a wide range of recycled commodities across packaging, organics, textiles and electronics. It owns and operates facilities across the U.S. and seeks to help municipalities and businesses eliminate the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on landfill disposal costs by ensuring that valuable commodities are recycled and reused in domestic supply chains. The companies investing in Circular Services, each one committed to advancing the circular economy, are collectively demonstrating the power of both collaboration and targeted investments to accelerate the transition from a linear to a circular economy.

According to Esi Eggleston Bracey, President of Unilever USA, “Scaling best-in-class circular infrastructure can help increase the supply of recycled plastic, which is key to making circular supply chains a reality. Our investment in Circular Services is an important step in increasing the feedstock needed to achieve Unilever’s 2025 plastics goals for recycled content in our packaging and our goal to collect and process more plastic packaging than we produce. These types of investments are critical for addressing plastic waste, which will take action from all of us across industries.”

Michael Kobori, chief sustainability officer at Starbucks adds, “Now is the time for bold action to transform the recycling infrastructure in the U.S. Starbucks is excited to join with Microsoft, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SK Group, Unilever, Brookfield and the Partnership Fund for New York City to help generate nearly a billion dollar investment in Circular Services. This builds upon our long-standing work with Closed Loop Partners, whose NextGen Consortium has made significant strides in advancing sustainable packaging, including bringing hot cup recycling to more communities.”

Circular Services’ focus on packaging as a key material for recovery is spurred by a growing need to increase recovery rates for packaging. Currently, recovery rates for packaging and food-service plastics are reported to be as low as 28% in the United States.

“To create a world where packaging never ends up in landfill or as litter, recycling capabilities must evolve, and investing in the infrastructure and circular systems that can help collect, sort, reuse and recycle is a critical step,” said Molly Fogarty, Head of Sustainability, Corporate & Government Affairs, Nestlé North America. “This investment will help upgrade recycling infrastructure in the U.S. and expand the availability of recycled content, as well as bolster packaging materials collection. We’re excited to work alongside other leading companies to advance Circular Services and help chart a path to a circular economy.”

In addition to the focus on packaging recovery, companies investing in Circular Services are bolstering efforts to recover electronic waste, one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. Today, over six billion mobile phones alone are circulating in the global economy. Yet, less than 20% of electronics broadly are collected, refurbished or recycled worldwide––translating to a lost value of more than $50 billion each year.

“With our third investment in the Closed Loop Partners ecosystem we look forward to being part of this new venture to build circular systems that can help our industry achieve our sustainability goals,” said Brandon Middaugh, senior director, Climate Innovation Fund at Microsoft. “We have begun testing e-waste recycling in Denver with Circular Services and look forward to exploring additional areas of potential collaboration.”

Todd Squarek, CSO, PepsiCo Beverages North America adds, “We have been partnering with Closed Loop Partners since their earliest days and are invested across five of their funds. When the firm established Circular Services, we knew we needed to be an active partner in this business to drive impact and get access to more rPET for our bottles. Closed Loop Partners is a trusted ally with a proven track record and we look forward to continuing our work with them to help transform the packaging supply chains of the future.”

“Building a circular economy for valuable materials, including plastics, takes a concerted effort across industries. We are proud to work alongside Closed Loop Partners and other leading companies to support the infrastructure needed to enable these systems,” said Jongho Yeo, vice president of SK geo centric. “As we work toward shared goals of reducing material waste and advancing resource circularity, supporting the necessary infrastructure through Circular Services can help accelerate the circular economy at scale.”

Across the United States and beyond, leading corporations are committing to increased recycled content and waste reduction goals, in alignment with broader climate commitments. “Expanding access to recycling and reuse services will enable cities and businesses to avoid the cost of landfilling products and packaging and achieve their sustainability goals,” said Jessica Long, Chief Strategy Officer of Closed Loop Partners. “Circular Services continues its work to accelerate a circular economy, an economic system that invests in the continual use of materials, reduces the reliance on natural resource extraction and landfills, and advances a waste-free future.”

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: an investment firm, innovation center and operating group. The investment firm invests in venture, growth equity, buyout and catalytic private credit strategies on behalf of global institutions, corporations and family offices. The innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity.

The operating group, Circular Services, has twelve recycling facilities in operation today, and 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 landfills 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 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, SK geo centric Co., Sealed Air, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Charter Next Generation. 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.

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



Photo Credit: Michael Anton

Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund Announces New Investors, Catalyzing Capital Toward a Circular Economy

By Closed Loop Partners

March 14, 2023

March 14, 2023, New York –– Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund announced Tuesday the addition of two new investors––Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and Charter Next Generation (CNG)––bringing the fund’s total capital to $45 million in an effort to support the development of plastics recycling and recovery infrastructure in North America.

The Circular Plastics Fund, managed by Closed Loop Partners, is focused on meeting the growing need to advance the recycling of rigid and flexible polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics in the United States and Canada. Global companies CPChem and CNG join existing investors Dow, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, SK geo centric Co. and Sealed Air.

“We saw the speed with which Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund put capital to work and determined that investing in the fund would help address our impact goals,” said Rick Wagner, Sustainability Policy & Program Manager at CPChem. “Collaboration will be a key component in advancing the transition to a circular economy. We look forward to joining the Circular Plastics Fund and furthering work to achieve a more sustainable future.”

In just its first year, the Circular Plastics Fund made significant investments in a range of solutions, including cutting-edge sortation technology and recycling infrastructure for plastics. Investments include:

  • SMR (formerly Sims Municipal Recycling), a leading recycling company managing several municipal recycling programs across the United States;
  • Myplas, a new state-of-the-art 170,000-square-foot flexible film recycling plant in Minnesota;
  • Greyparrot, a leading AI waste analytics platform that improves transparency and automation for plastics sortation in recycling facilities;
  • And additional debt financing to Waste Commission of Scott County, a solid waste district in Northeast Iowa.


“The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund’s investments work to catalyze a systemic shift in plastics supply chains, enabling companies to transition from a linear to circular model that utilizes recycled materials,” said Jennifer Louie, Head of the Circular Plastics Fund at Closed Loop Partners. “Looking ahead, we have a strong pipeline of companies across the plastics recycling value chain and need more capital to invest in these critical solutions. This additional $10 million from our new investors will allow us to accelerate our capital deployment and reach our impact goals. We hope to see other companies with circular plastics goals join to help us achieve impact at scale.”

Closed Loop Partners launched the Circular Plastics Fund as part of its broader strategy to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. The fund provides catalytic debt and equity financing, spurring additional mainstream investments into recycling solutions and infrastructure that can help address bottlenecks in the recycling system for PE, PP and flexible plastics––materials deemed critical to ensuring that the industry’s growing demand for high-quality recycled material will be met.

The current supply of recycled plastics meets only 6% of the demand for the most commonly used plastics in the United States and Canada. Increasing the recovery and circularity of plastics, alongside material reduction solutions, scalable reuse systems and innovative new materials, not only can prevent millions of tons of plastics from going to landfills or ending up in the natural environment, but 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[1], the need for investments has grown even more urgent.

“The investment from the Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund was critical to our expansion into the U.S.,” said Andrew Pieterse, CEO of Myplas USA, a portfolio company of the Circular Plastics Fund. “The fund played a critical role to help bring key stakeholders from across the plastics value chain to grow much-needed regional circular systems for flexible plastics in the U.S. We are thrilled to leverage the fund’s capital and strong network to help us build a successful initial operation in Minnesota followed by ambitious expansion plans to other parts of the Midwest and beyond.”

“We chose to invest through Closed Loop Partners because of their shared sense of urgency to invest in high-impact businesses that can scale to match the global plastic waste challenge,” said Hemal Vyas, Vice-President of Sustainability and Strategy, Charter Next Generation.

Closed Loop Partners, a leading circular economy investment firm, has over $500 million in assets under management, and has made over 65 investments, keeping 3.6 million tons of materials in circulation and avoiding 6.8 million tonnes of CO2e to date. 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.

CPChem and CNG are investors in the Circular Plastics Fund, and Myplas USA is a portfolio company of the Circular Plastics Fund. No material conflicts of interest are present as none of these three entities received any compensation for their comments.


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 at the forefront of building the circular economy. The company is comprised of three key business segments: an investment firm, innovation center and operating group. The investment firm invests in venture, growth equity, buyout and catalytic private credit strategies on behalf of global institutions, corporations and family offices. The innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity. The operating group, Circular Services, has twelve recycling facilities in operation today, and provides holistic, circular materials management to close the loop on valuable materials for municipalities and businesses throughout the United States. Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. For more information, please visit www.closedlooppartners.com.


[1] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/07/recycling-efforts-not-enough-to-solve-plastic-waste-problem/#:~:text=According%20to%20recent%20estimates%20from,to%20landfill%20by%20that%20point.

Apkudo Secures $37.5 Million in Series C Funding, Accelerating Growth of its Circular Industry Platform for Connected Devices   

By Apkudo

February 15, 2023

The Apkudo Circular Industry Platform enables supply chain efficiency and transparency across the lifecycle of connected devices, supporting smart decision making and strengthening repair, resale and recycling markets

Baltimore, MD — February 15, 2023—Apkudo, the leader in supply chain automation for connected devices, announced today that they have closed $37.5 million in Series C funding in an oversubscribed round co-led by Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund and Piper Sandler Merchant Banking with the participation from new and existing investors including MissionOG, Harbert Growth, Grotech Ventures, Lavrock Ventures, and Point Field Partners. During 2022, Apkudo continued its rapid growth and doubled revenue as industry players increasingly looked for ways to simplify and optimize their forward and reverse logistics for connected devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, wearables and other products. The company will use the funds to further expand their commercial and technical operations, as well as their international presence.

The Apkudo Circular Industry Platform solves for complexities in the connected device supply chain, delivering process efficiencies via a single operating system that manages the lifecycle of these devices, from launch to end of life. Already, Apkudo has connected and optimized the device supply chains for some of the world’s largest manufacturers, network operators, insurers, retailers, logistics providers, repairers and traders. Customers like FedEx, T-Mobile and Asurion have more transparency, security and connectivity across the supply chain for connected devices.

The Platform leverages both hardware and software technology purpose-built to maximize value from resale, repair and reuse while eliminating e-waste and improving profit margin and agility. Instead of relying on extensive labor, disconnected systems and limited reuse options, Apkudo provides a fully integrated diagnostic, dispositioning and marketplace solution that gives customers real-time visibility into global demand for their used devices. This comprehensive solution has saved a large mobile carrier over $100 million by improving inventory visibility and, for a global logistics company, reduced warehouse processing times by 30%.

More than six billion mobile phones alone are currently circulating and this number is expected to grow rapidly with increasing connectivity and consumption across the globe. These electronic devices are made of valuable resources, from the rare earth metals contained in their batteries to their individual electronic components. Yet today, less than 20% of electronics are collected, refurbished or recycled worldwide, which translates to a lost value of more than $50 billion each year. Furthermore, these devices contain several hazardous materials and when not managed properly at end-of-life, pollute air and groundwater at an alarming rate. Apkudo’s technology creates greater transparency and resiliency across the electronic device value chain, empowering businesses to make smart decisions regarding their devices, from launch, to forward logistics, to return, reuse and recycling at a device’s end-of-life.

“Velocity, accuracy, and transparency are required attributes of efficient, effective circular supply chains,” said Josh Matthews, CEO and Co-founder of Apkudo. “The Apkudo Circular Industry Platform is transformative in its approach to connecting industry participants and optimizing these outcomes for each and every device that moves through it.”

“There is so much value within the connected devices already in the market today. Increasing their useful life and keeping these valuable materials in circulation, and out of landfills and the environment, is a critical part of accelerating the circular economy,” said Martin Aares, Head of Asset Management at Closed Loop Partners. “Apkudo is helping build a circular future for connected devices––one that is more transparent and agile. We look forward to working with the Apkudo team as they accelerate the systems change needed for a waste-free future.”

“It’s actually a simple question – what should I do with this device, right now?”, added Seth Harward, managing director, Piper Sandler Merchant Banking. “But it took Apkudo to recognize all the pieces needed to answer that question, then build the solution that customers needed, and then finally make it easy for companies to use. This additional investment will help Apkudo get their solution to companies all over the world looking for a better way.”

To learn more, please visit www.apkudo.com. For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].


About Apkudo

Headquartered in Baltimore, MD with offices around the world, Apkudo helps companies managing connected devices to maximize device value, minimize labor costs and reduce e-waste. Apkudo’s Circular Industry Platform provides a full suite of decision-support and operating tools: automated testing and grading systems, device lifecycle management and resale market integration. As a result, Apkudo customers always have the answer to the question, “What should I do with this device, right now?”

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: an investment firm, innovation center and operating group. The investment firm invests in venture, growth equity, buyout and catalytic private credit strategies on behalf of global institutions, corporations and family offices. The innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity. The operating group, Circular Services, has twelve recycling facilities in operation today, and provides holistic, circular materials management to close the loop on valuable materials for municipalities and businesses throughout the United States.

Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. For more information, please visit www.closedlooppartners.com.

About Piper Sandler Merchant Banking

Piper Sandler Merchant Banking (PSMB) is the growth equity investment arm of Piper Sandler Companies (NYSE: PIPR). Our team strives to partner with founders and CEOs of growing, commercial stage businesses that can benefit by leveraging Piper Sandler’s knowledge, experience, capital and relationships to build market leading enterprises. PSMB provides investment advisory services through the affiliated registered investment adviser, PSC Capital Partners LLC.  Learn more about Piper Sandler Merchant Banking.

With Investment from Closed Loop Partners, Hyran Technologies Aims to Increase Agility in Fashion Supply Chains and Reduce Textile Waste  


February 14, 2023

New York, NY, Feb 14 – Hyran Technologies (Hyran), a collaborative, AI-driven fashion supply chain planning and production platform, announces investment from Closed Loop Partners’ Ventures Group. Through their platform, Hyran aims to optimize product development and manufacturing while reducing excess production and textile waste. The company envisions a future that disrupts traditional methods for inventory planning and enables collaboration between factories, suppliers and brands with value chain alignment and shorter design-to-shelf cycles.

Overproduction is one of the primary sources of waste in the fashion industry today, as waste has historically been seen as a cost of doing business in a globalized supply chain with strong competitive pressures that strained brand and supplier relationships. Orders are often overestimated and misaligned with demand signals, resulting in large volumes of overproduced apparel that are ultimately sent to landfill. Not only does this exacerbate the global waste crisis, but it also results in economic challenges for both fashion brands and suppliers. Rapid trend changes, increased geopolitical risk and pressures to adopt more sustainable practices have increased risk for those who continue to operate with legacy supply chain infrastructure.

Hyran’s platform intends to leverage real-time upstream and downstream supply chain data, providing brands and suppliers with visibility into raw material availability and manufacturing capacity, and connecting them with point-of-sale demand signal. This aims to better match production with customer demand by using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to generate optimal, real-time production plans spanning multiple tiers in the supply chain. Led by co-founders Ahmed Zaidi, University of Cambridge Computer Science PhD with decades’-long family business in apparel manufacturing, and Jordan Zhang, software engineer who built robust machine learning platforms that scaled within leading tech ecosystems, Hyran is bringing together the best of fashion and computer science to build a solution for the industry and for the planet. Ultimately, they aim to help brands build data-driven supply chains, minimize unsold inventory and reduce waste.

“The fashion industry accounts for an estimated 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is under increasing pressure to address its contribution to global waste,” said Caroline Brown, Managing Director at Closed Loop Partners and former CEO of global fashion houses. “In the face of a great need for new technologies to support a sustainable transition in the retail supply chain, the entrepreneurs at Hyran are envisioning the future of production.”

“Hyran Technologies’ vision is to reduce waste and excess inventory in the fashion industry by enabling speed and flexibility in the supply chain, rather than by trying to predict demand months ahead of time, as is standard practice now,” said Ahmed Zaidi, Co-Founder and CEO of Hyran Technologies. “By breaking down historical silos and strengthening connections between manufacturers and brands, we aim to tackle fashion’s overproduction problem with a fundamentally new approach. Our team of fashion industry and AI experts looks forward to working with manufacturers and brands across the industry, as we build the more transparent, connected, agile fashion supply chains of the future.”

“To build efficiencies and reduce waste in supply chains, we must first build connectivity across shared interests, and Hyran’s platform aims to make this possible,” said Danielle Joseph, Managing Director and Head of the Ventures Group at Closed Loop Partners. “Hyran’s focus on breaking down long-standing silos in the fashion supply chain can enable collaboration and unlock shared economic benefits, ultimately aiming to minimize waste generated through the supply chain. We look forward to working with the team to scale solutions advancing a waste-free future for the fashion industry.”

As Hyran takes flight in the coming months, they are seeking partnerships with manufacturers, brands and retailers with the interest and ability to explore data-driven supply chain management within their operations. Hyran has now begun discussions with brands and manufacturers to find partners keen to integrate these capabilities into their supply chains.




About Hyran Technologies

Hyran aims to help fashion brands minimize unsold inventory and waste and maximize profit by increasing the speed and flexibility of the supply chain. Emboldened through the challenges of a decades’-long family business in apparel manufacturing, combined with deep expertise in AI, the Hyran team brings novel technology to antiquated systems––helping fashion brands and suppliers collaborate toward a more agile, connected and waste-free future for fashion. This supplier-led, AI-optimized planning approach helps meet consumer demand while minimizing excess production and waste, and the costs that go with it, throughout the supply chain. Better for people, better for brands, better for the planet.

If you’re a supplier looking to differentiate your value proposition and better serve brands in your network, or a brand trying to get consumers the products they want when they want them, reach out here to explore if you could be a strong candidate for early product discussions with Hyran.


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: an investment firm, innovation center and operating group. The investment firm invests in venture, growth equity, buyout and catalytic private credit strategies on behalf of global institutions, corporations and family offices. The innovation center, the Center for the Circular Economy, unites competitors and partners to tackle complex material challenges and implement systemic change to advance circularity. The operating group, Circular Services, has twelve recycling facilities in operation today, and 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.

Closed Loop Partners is based in New York City and is a registered B Corp. For more information, please visit www.closedlooppartners.com.


About the Closed Loop Ventures Group at Closed Loop Partners 

Closed Loop Partners’ venture capital arm launched in 2017 with one of the first venture funds dedicated solely to investing in early-stage companies developing breakthrough solutions for the circular economy. The Closed Loop Ventures Group targets leading innovations in material science, robotics, agri-tech, sustainable consumer products and advanced technologies that further the circular economy. The Closed Loop Venture Fund II builds on the venture capital group’s first fund’s strategy, supported by an existing portfolio with strong financial performance, coupled with robust environmental and social impact. To learn more about the Closed Loop Ventures Group, visit the Closed Loop Partners’ website.

Food & Agriculture Series

Why Investments in a Circular Food System Need to Happen Now

By Bea Miñana & Allison Shapiro

September 08, 2022

Supply chain disruptions and a heightened climate crisis call us to look across a wide range of solutions, including the food we eat and don’t eat.

In the U.S., 35% of the food we produce goes unsold or uneaten. Whether this is because of too much food produced, too little harvested, food spoilage, or not recognizing the economic value of food byproducts, most of this surplus food ends up in the 1,000+ landfills operated around the country. If we look at U.S. landfills today, food makes up almost a quarter of the materials in them. A lot can be done to improve the resource efficiency of our food system today––and within this work lies a critical path to positive environmental impact and significant economic opportunity.

According to the leading food waste non-profit organization ReFED, uneaten food is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions today, generating 4% of U.S. and up to 10% of global emissions annually. These emissions come from many sources, ranging from unnecessary forestland conversion to excess energy use in food over-production to methane emissions during food waste decomposition.

To address climate change holistically, we need to look across the supply chains that move food through our economy today and transition them from take-make-waste supply chains to circular ones. Ultimately, a circular food system reduces food waste – and its associated greenhouse gas emissions – fundamentally linking it to climate goals. In fact, it is one of the top solutions to avoiding a global two degree warming scenario today, as reported by climate education non-profit Project Drawdown.

Investments in solutions that prevent food from going to waste, such as predictive software that allows retailers to match supply with demand more precisely, as well as composting infrastructure or anaerobic digestion technologies, are critical. According to ReFED, an annual investment of $14 billion – including $3 billion in catalytic capital that is patient and flexible – is necessary to cut food waste in half in the U.S.

But why invest in food waste reduction now?

1) Investable Innovations Already Exist

For more than five years, Closed Loop Partners has been publishing research, investing in and advancing circular solutions that cycle nutrients and eliminate food, organic and agricultural waste. These solutions span upstream food reduction solutions to midstream consumption solutions to downstream processing infrastructure – knowing that interventions at every stage of the supply chain are required to build a circular food system. As an upstream example, one of our portfolio companies, Mori, has developed a silk-based and edible coating that extends the shelf life of fresh food, reducing food spoilage and waste.  Rebound Technologies, one of our midstream portfolio companies, designs and manufactures freeze-point cooling systems, reducing food spoilage by boosting the efficiency of cold storage. Further downstream, our portfolio company HomeBiogas creates household and commercial-sized anaerobic digester units that convert food and yard waste into renewable energy and liquid fertilizer that can both be used onsite. Closed Loop Partners also invested in Atlas Organics, a growing composting company. In 2021, we successfully exited our investment in Atlas Organics, following its sale to Generate Capital, a key investor aligned with impact outcomes and growth of the company.

2) Demand for Investment Is Increasing

We are now at an inflection point, with several clear tailwinds that have convinced us that the investment case for deploying capital into the sector has never been more attractive. What are the tailwinds? We bucket them into three categories:

  • Environmental and market forces are directly driving revenue opportunities: Climate change has been headline news for years, but it’s never garnered the level of attention in the U.S. that it has today––and its link to food and agriculture has never been clearer. Climate change-induced droughts and severe weather are impacting agriculture cycles and food supplies, and organic waste in landfills is increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, amidst rising inflation, geopolitical instability and challenged supply chains, retailers are searching for more resilient ways to manage food supply chains: including sourcing more locally and reducing food waste to decrease costs while providing affordable products to consumers.


  • Industry leaders are driving action toward shared goals: Many Fortune 500 companies have set public net zero commitments, and more than 20 of them have set food waste reduction commitments with target reduction levels by target dates. As of early 2022, more than 40 large global corporations have signed up to the EPA’s 2030 Food Loss & Waste Champions program to reduce their food waste by 50% by 2030. Furthermore, there are several large cross-sectoral corporate, government and NGO partnerships for food waste reduction now in place, from 10x20x30 to the Pacific Coast Food Waste Collaborative to promote knowledge sharing, innovation and pool sources of demand for solutions. Kroger also launched their Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social and environmental impact plan to help create a more efficient, equitable and charitable food system. We are closely watching and excited by all three sets of development: consumer demand, corporate demand and public-private partnerships for knowledge sharing and innovation.


  • Policy is indirectly driving revenue opportunities: Many of us in impact investment have been watching regulatory and voluntary bodies work to standardize and create accountability for ESG disclosure for years. Those of us in the food waste space, particularly in the U.S., have also honed in on the uptick in legislation and updated mandates introduced at every level: federal, state and municipal, including the food waste bill passed this year and local organic waste bans. In 2021, the EPA updated its food waste data baselines to align with international goals outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, and it expanded the scope of the food scraps it considers waste that must be addressed. More than 10 states and D.C. have enacted food diversion mandates. In the nearly seven months that have passed since January 2022 alone, more than 70 bills were introduced in state legislatures to mitigate or repurpose food waste, calling for measures ranging from making it easier to donate excess food, to updating expiration date label approaches to funding compost collection.


  • Signals that traditional investors are starting to pay attention are rising: Investors poured more than $10 billion in venture capital into agricultural technology (known as ‘ag tech’) solutions in 2021. They even invested $2 billion into food waste solutions last year as well. But $2 billion trails the capital needed to cut food waste in half in the U.S., which ReFED found to be a $14 billion annual need.


3) Opportunities to Invest Are Growing

Having invested in food waste solutions since 2016 through Closed Loop Ventures Group and ongoing strategies within growth equity and private equity, Closed Loop Partners and ReFED have recognized the need to bring additional catalytic capital into the space. The two organizations have joined forces in a long-term partnership to begin to close the funding gap and to connect innovators with large players in the food system for transformational, sustainable systems change. Our new Circular Food Solutions Platform aims to provide the necessary capital, connectivity, market insight and support for innovation, to accelerate a variety of emerging food waste reduction solutions and bolster infrastructure for recovery. Ultimately, the Platform aims to scale a more circular food system that reduces organic waste and its associated greenhouse gas emissions, minimizes the economic burden on municipalities of unnecessary landfilling and waste incineration, and contributes to hunger relief – all with the larger goal of a more sustainable, circular economy.

Our new Platform is an investment and innovation platform that aims to drive traditional capital into the sector through two catalytic vehicles: a catalytic investment strategy and catalytic grant strategy. The Platform will be jointly managed by Closed Loop Partners & ReFED, intending to: (a) provide patient, catalytic capital; (b) de-risk solutions through innovation support and research; and (c) bring critical stakeholders to the table to collaborate in a cross-supply chain, cross-sectoral manner toward shared sustainability goals. The proposed hybrid structure seeks to activate solutions across three categories: Prevention, Rescue and Recycling. The Platform’s proposed design includes philanthropic and catalytic, flexible investment capital – debt, equity and grants – with the intention of meeting organizations where they are in their development cycle and a purpose of accelerating the efforts of not just private start-ups, but also public sector entities, project operators and non-profit organizations.

Collaboration is Key to Solving the Problem

This initiative is unprecedented. Knowing that collaboration is key to solving this complex challenge, it brings together an industry-leading data provider on U.S. food waste and impact methodology to assess solutions, and an experienced circular economy-focused investment and innovation firm, with unparalleled collective industry knowledge, network, and investment experience. By working together, we can collectively have a much bigger impact on the system, in activating supply chains for sustainability.

Closed Loop Partners is already seeing many circular solutions in the food and organics space, seeking capital ranging from grants to early-stage equity funding to later-stage project finance debt. Since 2016, we’ve invested in 10 food waste mitigation or recycling companies ranging from solutions to sequester carbon in agricultural products, to cold chain storage, to industrial organic composting and anaerobic digestion.

With targeted funding of $100M – of which $80M would be allocated to an investment strategy, and the remaining $20M to grants for non-investment-grade (or non-profit) solutions – the new Circular Food Solutions Platform aims to contribute to the diversion of up to 10 million tons of food waste from landfill, which would result in 15M mtCO2e avoided, and save nearly 800 billion gallons of water. All while supporting innovators of all types to benefit from our nearly 10 years of work investing and partnering with large global retailers, consumer goods, technology companies and local municipalities to build more sustainable supply chains.

If you are interested in learning more about this important topic, please contact us here.

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


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