OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Creating Value from Waste: Putting an end to ocean plastics by building community wealth

We can catalyze dramatic waste reduction in SE Asia with solutions that clean up coastlines, improve livelihoods, & grow local economies.

Photo of Ellen
5 4

Written by

This idea will catalyze dramatic waste reduction in Southeast Asia, creating circular economies that clean up coastlines, save marine life, improve livelihoods of residents, and grow local businesses. We will do this through local partnerships and impact investments for market-based solutions that strengthen recycling infrastructure in 1-2 countries.

Explain your idea

It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Waste will cost us $375b each year globally by 2025. Right now, there are 150m tons of plastic in the ocean; that number is growing by 8m tons every year, putting tremendous economic and environmental pressure on island nations and countries with significant marine-based commercial activity. Southeast Asia, in particular, has been dramatically impacted by the problem. Increasing consumption has turned the lack of recycling and waste management infrastructure into an environmental, financial and health crisis. In Indonesia and the Philippines, two of the most populous countries in the region, 140m+ people living in poverty are disproportionately impacted by these environmental and health challenges. By contrast, collecting and recycling waste can generate living wage jobs for those living in poverty, as companies like Thread (http://www.threadinternational.com) and Bureo (https://bureo.co) have shown. The source of ocean debris is not at the coastline, but in inland cities and communities. Where waste is generated, infrastructure to manage waste is under-developed; recycling activity is isolated at best. The problem is complex: development is expensive; local governments are under-resourced; entrepreneurs lack investment capital; businesses lack access to state-of-the-art technologies; there is no local market data on commodities values. No single actor can unilaterally address these systemic issues. Yet successful models exist: Locally, waste collection cooperatives give people working in a dangerous informal economy real employment and living wages. Elsewhere, innovators are creating high quality jobs by recovering waste and turning it into valuable manufacturing feedstock. Unfortunately, none of these examples can scale without an infusion of capital. The successful collection, sorting, and processing of waste into productive material requires significant investments in infrastructure, regulatory supports, community engagement and education. Such an integrated approach requires coordination of financial, political and human capital among private, public and nonprofit sectors. Importantly, success also requires a “bridge builder” that can bring the right combination of actors and resources to bear on the problem. To make this vision a reality, we must first develop a business case for solving this challenge, and then allocate catalytic investment capital into new infrastructure and entrepreneurs focused on turning waste into community value. To start, we will: 1. Develop partnerships with community-based organizations, governments, businesses, and investors in 1-2 countries in SE Asia 2. Identify and assess proven and innovative models that reduce waste in the oceans and drive economic value for local communities 3. Bring the resources of our global partners, including consumer brands and NGOs, to a focused effort in these countries

Who Benefits?

This idea will benefit: *Urban and coastal residents*, in particular those living in poverty, by creating jobs and creating a healthier environment on land and in the oceans *Entrepreneurs and small business owners*, by creating new business opportunities in collections and sorting, as well as developing new end-markets for recycled materials *Municipalities and local governments*, by improving public health and sanitation infrastructure, and generating savings and revenues from recycling that can go to many other public uses, such as healthcare or education

How is your idea unique?

Closed Loop Partners (CLP) was created in 2014 to address bottlenecks in the recycling system. We provide impact capital to cities and companies, with investment from large consumer brands. Our model enables companies, financial institutions and governments to build better recycling infrastructure and develop a more circular economy in North America. Today CLP is tracking toward 4m tons of waste diverted from landfill by 2025, 8m tons of GHG emissions avoided, $50m in economic benefit to communities, and 3x leverage of our dollars from co-investors. As our portfolio scales, more cities benefit and more businesses succeed. In 2016, CLP was a research partner to Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas Alliance, and contributed our unique expertise as a capital provider focused on integrated waste management, recycling, and supply chains. Today, capital investment from traditional sources is limited; CLP can act as a bridge to catalyze new investment in sustainable models.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about you

The Closed Loop Partners (CLP) investment platform invests in optimizing supply chains by turning waste into value and building the circular economy. The team utilizes a unique network of corporate investors, foundation partnerships, municipal relationships, and university affiliations to create competitive advantages and enable acceleration of commercialization for portfolio companies. The CLP investment ecosystem provides different forms of capital to create greater opportunity for financial and environmental returns: 1. Closed Loop Foundation researches and incubates business models that build markets and roadmaps to improve environmental outcomes. Clients/investors include corporations and foundations. 2. Closed Loop Ventures invests in early stage companies ready to commercialize innovation via advanced recycling technologies, manufacturing technologies and sustainable materials. This fund is currently open and LPs include are family offices, high net worth individuals and institutions. 3. Closed Loop Fund is a $100m debt fund that invests in scaling recycling through municipal infrastructure, private companies, materials and packaging. LP's include the world's largest retailer, Walmart, and leading consumer goods companies including P&G, Unilever, J&J, Coke, Pepsi, and 3M. By 2025, CLP aims to invest more than $100 million in recycling infrastructure and recycling businesses in the following areas: • Municipal recycling infrastructure • Sortation facilities routing recyclable commodities • High value end markets for recycled content • Early stage disruptive companies designing waste out of the system • R&D to find solutions for hard to recycle commodities Visit www.closedlooppartners.com to learn more about our focus and strategy. As an impact investment platform focused on recycling and circular economy, we understand that our success in tackling ocean plastics in Southeast Asia will depend upon our ability to partner with key stakeholders in the region. We will leverage our existing networks, as well as expand our partnerships in countries in the region. A number of organizations, including brand owners, environmental NGOs, investors, and development agencies, have expressed early interest in working with us.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

5 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Deb Levine
Team

So simple, it's brilliant!

Photo of Sanderine
Team

Hi @Ellen, Thank you for sharing your ideas. There is definitely a large need for growing businesses that collect, sort, treat and create value from waste in SE Asia mainly. There will also be a growing need in African countries in which the biggest boom in population and waste production is to be expected over the coming decades. We fully align with your strategy and would like to explore the potential to partner. We at Enviu (www.enviu.org) build impact ventures and one of our cornerstone programs focuses on Plastic, and in particular on replicating successful circular waste ventures that we source globally to target countries such as Indonesia, India and Kenya. Looking forward to get in touch to explore synergies in our activities. Best wishes,
Sanderine van Odijk (sanderine@enviu.org).

Photo of Ellen
Team

Thanks Sanderine! It was great to learn more about what Enviu is doing. We look forward to continuing to explore.

Photo of Conrad Young
Team

Great idea, Ellen.
I was in Indonesia a couple of weeks ago and the state of the (otherwise very attractive) beaches was sometimes shocking. Thin film sacks, expanded polystyrene, containers, tyres (tires) and even tar from illegal bunker fuel dumping.
Apart from the long term ecological damage, it is bound to impact tourism revenues.
We've seen the positive impact of government action, from Berkeley to London to Dhaka, to curtail excessive use of packaging. This can be a strong catalyst for innovative plastic packaging alternatives and even circular models.
We have food company, government and investor contacts in the region and would be delighted to work with you on this.

Photo of Ellen
Team

Thanks Conrad! Let's talk!