July 7, 2020
July 7, 2020
Replenysh has closed a $2 million seed round led by Kindred Ventures, Floodgate Fund, and 122WEST to build a technology platform to create a more profitable circular economy for the recycling industry and to create closed-loop supply chains for brands and manufacturers.
We connect the recycling industry with inspired brands who want to rethink their materials and create a more sustainable and profitable business.
A Critical Supply Chain
Every day, thousands of our fellow Americans work extremely hard to collect and process the materials our homes and businesses use. These recycled materials — paper, plastic, and metal — are a critical component of our supply chain and provide feedstocks to brands and manufacturers. The recycling industry, with nearly 5,000 recycling centers across the US, protects communities from the cost and negative impacts of trash, landfills, and pollution, and proved essential during Covid-19. Recycling is an unequivocally important industry for the American economy, yet many collectors, recycling centers, and processors struggle to stay afloat.
In an effort to reduce the negative externalities of their products and support the communities they serve, large consumer and retail brands have made aggressive public commitments to increase the use of recycled materials in their products. For example, a beverage brand wants to use more recycled plastic in their bottles, and an apparel brand wants to use more recycled cotton in their clothing. These brand commitments create additional demand (and support) for the recycling industry. However, these commitments have not been met as brands do not have the know-how or tools to reinvent entrenched and broken systems.
This is really hard work
The United States has not invested in our recycling infrastructure to the level of which we need. To date, we remain overly dependent on landfilling and exporting our materials. It costs communities — on average — $30 to dump one ton of material in a landfill whereas it costs $90 to process one ton of recyclables. And until recently, we were sending materials to Asian countries who let us get away with low quality exports. In addition, the infrastructure that supports a non-recycled supply chain is substantially more mature and capitalized. As an example, the US virgin PET plastic market is 6.5 times larger than the recycled PET plastic market.
Recycling centers and processors face hurdles such as cheaper landfill costs, lower quality materials, and competitive price pressures as they work to grow an industry that has not evolved with the digitization of our economy. The volatility of commodity markets also prevents them from investing in the necessary systems. It is no wonder then that brand commitments have not yielded any action. Brands — whose primary purpose is to supply us with products — have a difficult time navigating our recycling infrastructure, building resources to grow material supply, and making decisions within an industry that lacks tools, transparency, and trust.
The future of materials
Humans made waste. We created the word and its meaning, and we equivocate it with “trash”, “garbage”, “rubble.” Yet, this manufactured concept of waste is uniquely human. A tree does not waste its leaves. A worm does not waste its excrement. The soil welcomes these leaves and castings, and is nourished by both. Here, waste equals food, and facilitates a regenerative economy between tree, worm, and the soil. We envision a world where the concept of waste does not exist. Our consumption would yield nutrients that either nourish the environment or feed an infinite product cycle.
Architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart have promoted a future where humans yield nutrients; specifically biological or technical. Biological nutrients are materials designed to safely return to the earth, such as mushroom packaging, and technical nutrients are materials designed to circulate within closed-loop systems, such as metals. The digitization of the communications, energy, and transportation sectors will help us construct a digital supply chain that reuses nutrients versus one that dumps trash and pollution. When we treat all materials as nutrients that recirculate and regenerate, our consumption will be additive to the planet, not detrimental. We will live in a society of abundance, and be native.
We are building this new digital supply chain. We are providing solutions for recycling centers to sell their materials to best and highest reuse, discover direct and transparent pricing from buyers, automate their workflow, track the movement of their materials, and increase their material intake. We focus on the team members and owners at recycling centers because they are vital to the circular economy and are facing pressures from volatile commodity markets, shifting material designs, increased material contamination, and dearth of market transparency and trust. We are also providing solutions for brands to reach their commitments by building and coordinating new supply networks.
We envision a world where all materials are reused, and landfills and plastic pollution are un-invented. Our team has the experience and passion to bring innovative and scalable solutions to this goal. And we are thrilled to be backed by Steve Jang and Kanyi Maqubela of Kindred Ventures, Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate, AJ Solimine and Evan Tana of 122WEST, and several amazing individuals including Curtis Chambers (first CTO of Uber), Tom McInerney (Angel Investor and environmentalist), Jeffrey Miller (Former Director Uber ATG), Grant Miller (Founder of Look.io and Replicated), Marc Campbell (Founder of Look.io and Replicated), William Barnes (Ex-West coast GM, Uber), and Brian Thomas (Cofounder of Clutter).
Today, we are already connecting hundreds of recycling centers to domestic buyers and working with national retailers and large consumer brands to reimagine their supply chains. More than 15% of the bottle-grade PET plastic market — and growing — currently transacts through our technology.
Calling All Brands (who want to be sustainable and profitable)
Brands want to create value for their customers, and have an incredible opportunity to deepen that value-add by incorporating recycled content into their products. That is not happening today. The current low commodity markets are seeing brands move away from recycled content and leaving a recycling industry struggling to survive. Recycling centers are faced with limited and volatile markets, declining revenues, with some even being forced to close. With a growing network and suite of tools, Replenysh is eager to partner with brands across the globe who wish to create deeper value for their customers.
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