Circulate Capital expands into new market with investment in Thai recycling company Union J. Plus, further strengthening its Southeast-Asian footprint

December 13, 2023

  • New capital will strengthen Thailand’s circular flexible plastics supply chain with Union J.Plus’ scale-up and acquisition of a local LDPE recycling facility.  
  • Investment backed by PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Chanel, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, and Mondelēz International.


Bangkok, 13 December 2023: Circulate Capital, the leading circular economy investment management firm in high-growth markets, today announced a new strategic investment in well-established Thai polyolefins recycler Union J.Plus (UJP). The new capital will enable female-owned and led UJP to strengthen its operations and accelerate its scale-up through both organic growth and M&A, starting with the acquisition of an existing 18,000 TPA capacity low-density polyethylene (LDPE) recycling facility located in Samut Prakan

Supported by Circulate Capital’s investment, UJP will significantly increase its recycling capacity and strengthen its supply chain. When fully operational, UJP expects its total recycling capacity to exceed 30,000 TPA, including 20,000 TPA of Premium/food-grade polyolefins. 

One of the few female-owned and led recycling businesses in the region, UJP is headed by industry veterans who are leveraging their 20 years of experience, deep local insights, and strong technical expertise to position the company as one of Thailand’s leading polyolefins recyclers. By accelerating the collection and recycling of large volumes of domestic plastic waste, this new development is a major milestone for accelerating the circular economy in Thailand. 

The strategic investment also marks Circulate Capital’s first venture in Thailand, expanding its recycling portfolio – already the largest in South and Southeast Asia – and demonstrating its continued commitment to creating local supply chains for high-quality recycled plastics.  

In Thailand alone, around two million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually – of which only a quarter is recycled. Research estimates the country loses up to US$4 billion annually when plastics are discarded rather than recycled into valuable materials. Comparatively, adopting a circular economy can unlock as much as US$1.6 billion in cost savings and additional revenue for Thailand’s private sector. 

Kulanart Siriphati, Union J. Plus Co-Founder, said: “As an active player in Thailand’s growing plastic waste recycling industry, our goal is to lead the charge in advancing plastic circularity for a more sustainable future. Circulate Capital’s support is crucial to this commitment, empowering us to scale our efforts and enhance Thailand’s recycling infrastructure.” 

With the first circular economy fund in Asia to be backed by global brands, including PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Chanel, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC, and Mondelēz International, Circulate Capital’s partnership with UJP will also provide the company with access to global supply chains and allows them to tap into the R&D and technical expertise of leading corporations.

“We will catalyze systems change across high-growth markets in the region by taking this full value chain approach to our investments. We’re proud to support UJP as a key player in transforming Thailand’s recycling supply chain by facilitating its scale-up,” said Rob Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital. “With its strong women-led management team and impressive track record, we expect great impact and results as UJP supercharges its growth and capitalizes on the growing market opportunity for recycled plastics globally and society’s need for a circular economy. ”

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Circulate Capital Announces Final Close of $76 Million Climate Tech Fund, Bringing Total Assets Under Management to $255 Million

December 5, 2023

Singapore – December 5, 2023 — Circulate Capital, a leading environmental impact investor advancing the circular economy for plastics in high-growth markets, announced today the final close of the Circulate Capital Ocean Fund I-B (CCOF I-B), bringing the fund’s total AUM to $76 million and the firm’s total AUM to $255 million. CCOF I-B invests in two complementary strategies aimed at tackling the plastic pollution crisis and fighting climate change: 

  • Circulate Capital Disrupt (CCD): climate-tech investments in breakthrough innovations that reduce the need for virgin plastics and limit greenhouse gas emissions across the sustainable fashion, biotech and AI, and smart materials sectors.
  • Circulate Capital Recycling Supply Chains: growth investments that transform recycling and waste management supply chains in South and Southeast Asia (SSEA), scaling the highest-potential solutions and replicating their success.

Circulate Capital also announced today that it has secured a $7 million commitment from BII, the UK’s development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor. This marks the firm’s fourth investment from a DFI, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Proparco, a subsidiary of the French AFD Group, with total commitments from DFIs now reaching $32 million. These commitments are expected to help catalyze institutional investment into enterprises that develop solutions to combat plastic waste in Asia.

The firm additionally announced today that CCOF I-B has qualified for the 2X Challenge, in recognition of its significant commitment to women’s economic empowerment. The Fund’s nomination was sponsored by BII. This qualification is a key milestone of Circulate Capital’s Gender Smart Investing Strategy, launched in March 2022. 

“We’re proud to welcome BII to our prestigious list of institutional investors so we can scale our investments more quickly to address the global plastic pollution crisis and advance the circular economy,” said Rob Kaplan, CEO and Founder of Circulate Capital. “To close our climate tech fund with the support of prominent partners including global corporations, family offices, foundations, and now four of the biggest DFIs in the world signifies that the sector is ripe for the capital it needs to achieve circularity and mitigate the negative effects of climate change.”

Kaplan continued: “Crossing the $250 million AUM threshold is an exciting measure of our success, but even more a testament to the growing appetite amongst institutional and impact investors for investments in high growth companies that are delivering both deep impact and meaningful financial returns. Thus far, our climate tech strategy has invested in four impressive enterprises at the forefront of climate tech and circular innovation, and we will continue to identify and add innovators in this space to our portfolio as well as for our flagship strategy of investing in recycling infrastructure in the SSEA region.”

British High Commissioner to Singapore, Kara Owen, said: “This deal will inject investment to help solve an issue which is particularly pressing in this region – plastic waste management. This UK Government funding is indicative of the strength of the UK commitment to the Indo-Pacific and our innovative approach to tackling global challenges and development. That innovation and UK-Singapore partnership is at the core of the UK-Singapore Strategic Partnership.”

Commenting on its commitment and partnership with Circulate Capital, Srini Nagarajan, Managing Director and Head of Asia at BII said: “With an estimation that 11 million metric tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, plastic pollution is a serious threat to not just the health of our oceans but also the livelihoods of millions of people. That’s why we are proud to partner with Circulate Capital in South and South East Asia as through funding innovative circulate economy solutions, they have already prevented about 150k tonnes of plastic pollution leakage, reduced or avoided GHG emissions of about 227k tonnes, and managed or recycled a total waste of about 1.2m tonnes.”

He added: “With deep sector capabilities, we look forward to learning alongside Circulate for solutions to addressing the plastic problem which could be replicated in other emerging markets.”

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Circulate Capital announces new investment in Algenesis, a plant-based material science company

October 26, 2023

October 26, 2023: Leading plant-based material science company Algenesis Corporation has raised  US$5M in a funding round led by First Bight Ventures, with Circulate Capital and others. A pioneer in  developing bio-based plastics that are competitive with petroleum-based in both cost and functionality,  Algenesis’ patented Soleic® technology is the world’s first renewable, high-performance, fully biodegradable and backyard compostable bioPolyurethane (bioPU) made from plants and algae. 

Algenesis’ unique Soleic® PU is currently available in soft foam applications, such as midsoles and insoles  for footwear. The new funds will be used to expand Soleic® product lines into breathable waterproof  textiles, and injection molded products such as phone cases. The company also plans to expand and  strengthen its supply chain by bringing more of its processes in-house, to scale production and  commercialization of these materials that are increasingly in demand by a variety of consumer-facing  brands, further cementing their position as a leader in eco-innovation. 

Rob Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital, said: “We are thrilled to add Algenesis to Circulate  Capital’s Disrupt portfolio, which targets breakthrough innovations advancing circularity. As global brands commit to driving circularity in their products, we see huge potential for Algenesis to meet this market opportunity with their innovative new materials.”

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The Sustainability Podcast: What’s the solution for plastic pollution?

July 13, 2023

Shocking ocean plastic statistics in the headlines, plastic bottles floating in rivers, shopping bags in the street – we’ve all witnessed plastic pollution in one form or another. But while plastic pollution is a global problem, plastic itself is a useful and effective material. So how bad are plastics for the environment and how can we reduce their impact? Find out in this episode of the sustainability podcast.

Guests: Rob Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital, Dominic Charles, Deputy Director of Plastics, Minderoo Foundation, Livia Heinzmann, Head of Sustainable Investment Framework Classifications, Credit Suisse, Sina Dorner-Muller, Head of Sustainable Investment Framework Methodologies, Credit Suisse

A Discussion With Procter & Gamble’s Chief Sustainability Officer: How Global Corporations Are Evolving Their Roles To Help Solve The Plastic Waste Crisis

July 13, 2023

For this Forbes article, Circulate Capital Founder and CEO Rob Kaplan interviewed Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer at Procter & Gamble, to discuss the evolution of partnerships to help solve the plastic waste crisis and how corporates can accelerate their impact through innovation, new commitments and greater cross-collaboration.

Read the full interview on Forbes

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Unlocking Circularity, Value and Impact at Scale: Circulate Capital’s 2022 Year in Review

June 6, 2023

Circulate Capital has released its 2022 annual report, “Unlocking circularity, value and impact at scale”, revealing key milestones and insights from fighting plastic pollution in Asia.

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Circulate Capital Launches New Initiative with US$65M to Combat Plastic Pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean

May 23, 2023

IDB Lab, Builders Vision, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Danone, Dow, Mondelēz International, and Unilever Join Forces to Scale the Recycling Supply Chain Across Latin America and the Caribbean, Address Climate Change, and Improve Livelihoods

Mexico City – May 23, 2023 — Circulate Capital, a leading environmental impact investor advancing the circular economy for plastics in high-growth markets, announced today the launch of a new initiative to combat plastic pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank Group,  Builders Vision, the impact platform founded by Lukas Walton, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Danone, Dow, Mondelēz International, and Unilever have joined forces to pledge a total of US$65M to help scale solutions and support best-in-class recycling businesses across the LAC region. The new LAC initiative will focus initially on Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico and soon expand across the region.

 As highlighted by the United Nations, growing economies across Latin America and the Caribbean have advanced faster than their waste management and recycling infrastructures. As a result, there is an opportunity to strengthen and scale the recycling value chain across the region. This joint initiative between Circulate Capital and its partners aims to:

  1. Scale companies with systemic solutions that rethink recycling supply chains, from collecting and sorting to processing and manufacturing;
  2. Mitigate climate change and environmental risks;
  3. Advance the circular economy for plastic; and
  4. Benefit local communities and create jobs.

Circulate Capital’s unique model leverages the networks and expertise of IDB Lab as well as CP Chem, Danone, Dow, Mondelēz International, and Unilever, who seek new solutions to help them meet their global sustainability commitments. Beyond financing, Circulate Capital and its partners provide mentoring and technical support to recycling companies to help them reach global quality standards and gain access to global supply chains.

“We have identified promising opportunities across Latin America that, if scaled, could turn the tide on the plastic waste crisis in the region,” said Rob Kaplan, CEO and Founder, Circulate Capital. “By applying the lessons and best practices from our years of work in South and Southeast Asia, we are confident that we can support solutions in Latin America’s high-growth markets to create circularity at scale. Our corporate partners will also play a critical, strategic role in helping best-in-class recyclers to connect with global supply chains, and we look forward to their collaboration.”

The new initiative is the culmination of more than two years of research by Circulate Capital’s team and partners to understand the potential solutions in the LAC region. Circulate Capital published the findings of this research in its recent report, ‘Reducing plastic pollution in Latin America: A Handbook for Action,’ which revealed that the LAC region is primed for businesses and the private sector to transform the plastic waste value chain.

The LAC initiative will leverage Circulate Capital’s experience operating in South and Southeast Asia (SSEA), where it built the largest recycling portfolio of the region, which includes 10 companies transforming the supply chains from collection to upcycling and digitization. 

“I’ve seen firsthand here on the ground in Latin America the cost of inaction to mitigate the plastic waste crisis in the region – but the problem is far from insurmountable. What’s driving our optimism for recovery and success in advancing the circular economy is that we have esteemed partners who acknowledge the critical situation and have committed to develop the local and regional solutions we need to reform our plastic waste value chain,” said Ernesto Hanhausen, Circulate Capital’s Partner for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Scaling the recycling supply chain across the LAC region will be an important way to fight climate change as well as enable the creation of safe and dignified jobs across the value chain.”

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Advance Market Commitments: Applying Climate Change Lessons To Fighting Plastic Pollution

May 23, 2023

In this column, Rob Kaplan discusses the concept of Advance Market Commitments (AMCs) and  how they could be a great innovation for the development of a circular economy for plastic waste.

Drawing on the Frontier initiative, an AMC (funded by big multinational corporates) that aims to accelerate the development of carbon removal technologies by guaranteeing future demand for them, Rob delves into how we might be able to accelerate our efforts to curb plastic pollution.

Just like in the carbon removal sector, there’s lots of uncertainty about long-term demand and unproven technologies when it comes to plastic waste. AMCs can send a strong and immediate demand signal without picking winning technologies at the start. In this column, you can learn more about Rob’s perspective on the challenges we are facing today to realize the vision of an AMC for plastics and why taking a key risk like ‘offtake’ off the table through an AMC could help bring in new capital commitments at scale to drive real systems change.
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The Three L’s Of Setting Up An Impact Fund: Location, Location, Location

April 10, 2023

In this column,  Rob Kaplan delves into the importance of location when setting up an impact fund. Looking back at Circulate Capital’s decision to plant its roots in Singapore, he underscores the importance of a supportive impact ecosystem to encourage engagement and support business growth.

Rob specifically calls out how Temasek, the Singaporean state-owned investment company has played a central role in developing the narrative that there does not need to be a trade-off between impact and financial returns. Also, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has set ambitious green finance goals and is seeking to engage family offices on the urgency of climate change and the role they can play to catalyze private sector funding.

Continue reading the article on to learn more about how choosing the right location can help set up an impact fund for success

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Collaborating for a stronger plastics circular economy

March 29, 2023

As the world races to tackle the growing plastic pollution and climate change crises,advancing the circular economy has become a key priority. Connecting local knowledge with global expertise through strategic partnerships will be key to scaling disruptive solutions in emerging markets.

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Recycling works, and investors are waking up to its potential in high-growth Asian markets

March 17, 2023

This week, our non-profit partner The Circulate Initiative launched the world’s first tool to track the scale of investment into plastic circularity in emerging markets. This is a huge milestone for our industry; as access to data on plastic circularity deals grows, so too will confidence about investing in the sector.

And the data behind this tool is revealing:

  • From 2018 to 2022, 88% of private investments were allocated to downstream solutions such as recycling and recovery.
  • All of the top 10 deals in plastics circularity involved waste management or recycling companies, indicating a change of perception of the recycling industry. Investors are now recognizing the opportunity related to this well established and tested business model.
  • Asia is leading the charge in this trend, with 87% of cumulative investments since 2018 going towards Asian-based companies.

Of course, reducing the amount of plastic produced and disposed of requires a systemic shift. So beyond recycling, we must continue in parallel to drive capital towards more disruptive upstream solutions such as innovative materials and advanced recycling technologies.

As we celebrate Global Recycling Day, let’s recognize the significant progress we’ve made in the recycling industry and the potential for even more growth and innovation in the future. The tailwinds behind the circular economy are blowing stronger than ever, and investors who recognize the opportunities presented by recycling are well-positioned to capitalize on this trend.

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We need to shift investors’ attention to growth of the company from gender of the founder, says Recykal’s Narain

March 4, 2023

Promoting gender equity in the workforce can result in better decision-making and business outcomes, with investors playing a key role in strengthening inclusive practices across their portfolios.

In a recent interview with DealStreetAsia, Ekta Narain, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of shares her journey as a female founder and entrepreneur. She also discusses how companies and investors can shift toward greater gender inclusion, shining the light on Recykal’s Gender Action Plan journey with Circulate Capital.

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