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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Global plastics treaty will be empty words without policy to spur investment

January 17, 2023

The first meeting to commence negotiations on the Global Plastics Treaty ended in early December, with clear battle lines drawn between those advocating for a focus on global mandates versus country-specific voluntary commitments and not enough progress on important procedural issues.

But member states need not wait for consensus to begin tackling an even greater challenge: raising the capital needed to stop plastic pollution.

As negotiations continue, policymakers and all stakeholders need to urgently step up and ensure the stage is set for significantly more capital to flow into circular economy solutions.

Addressing the $1.2 trillion question

According to the recently released report by the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) and our mission-aligned partner, The Circulate InitiativeUnlocking the Plastics Circular Economy: Case Studies on Investment, the transition to a circular economy will require an investment of $1.2 trillion and a significant shift away from business-as-usual.

Policymakers are needed more than ever to create the conditions for significantly more funding to be directed towards circular innovations and business models. From voluntary corporate commitments to supportive regulatory frameworks, there are powerful examples of how this can work in action:

  • Policies like Extended Producer Responsibility support a cohesive system for plastic circularity. Bolstered by the government’s Swaach Bharat (Clean India) mission, Recykal – India’s first waste-commerce platform – was able to secure $26 million in funding from domestic and international investors in just three years. Its digital marketplace further supports the investment case for the sector by allowing for greater standardization and reliability of plastic waste management transactions.
  • New financial instruments, such as blue loans, incentivize investment. Mechanisms such as tax credits and sustainability-linked corporate bonds can help to stimulate market development. For example, Indorama Ventures Ltd (IVL), the world’s largest producer of PET bottles, secured a $300 million blue loan financing package from three development finance institutions to support its plans to double its recycling capacity. This innovative financial instrument, marking the world’s first independently verified, non-sovereign blue loan,  fostered the development and acceptance of issuance guidelines for the emerging blue bond market.
  • Development of domestic capital markets to reduce or share risk. In Indonesia, this has already been demonstrated with the government’s green sukuk – which are compliant with Sharia or Islamic religious law – and Sustainable Development Goal-linked bonds that raise capital for infrastructure. By investing in waste management, national governments signal to the market that they recognize the breadth and urgency of the plastics problem and provide a model for further development of capital markets domestically and beyond.

The sector’s financing needs are immense, but they are attainable as more investors take notice of the opportunity for competitive returns. Further bolstered by commitments and action from the private sector, effective policy can help to drive capital to local enterprises that are advancing the circular supply chains needed to address plastic pollution and climate change.

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Views From The Battlefield: Four Years Of Lessons On Investing To Build A Circular Economy For Plastic

January 17, 2023

With a climate crisis that is only more dire, we are evolving to meet the moment. Today we are laser focused on investing at the nexus of climate-tech and plastic waste.

Continue reading article by Rob Kaplan on

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