Circular Secures $10.5M for Recycled Materials Platform

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_Circular Secures $10.5M for Recycled Materials Platform
Getty Images/Andriy Onufriyenko

Circular.co, the leading platform for sourcing sustainable materials, has secured $10.5 million in funding.

This will allow them to grow their massive database of post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials and further streamline the buying and selling process through their platform.

The funding comes in two parts: a $5.3 million Series A round led by Maniv, Oxygea, and Eclipse, following a previous $5.2 million seed round led by Eclipse.

Meeting Sustainability Goals: A Challenging Race

Many companies across various industries, from food & beverage to automotive, are facing tight deadlines to achieve plastic reduction and net-zero emissions by 2025 and 2030, aligning with international agreements set by the United Nations.

Unfortunately, current trends suggest these goals will likely be missed. For example, signatories to The Global Commitment on Plastic Reduction, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, are predicted to fall short of their 2025 targets. Also, only 18% of companies are reportedly on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, according to Accenture.

These sustainability and procurement teams are struggling with a fragmented PCR market. This fragmentation leads to ongoing issues with price inconsistencies, unreliable quality, limited availability, and difficulty accessing appropriate materials.

Circular: A Solution for a Fragmented Market

Circular offers a solution by providing access to a network of over 9,000 global suppliers with more than 50,000 PCR technical records. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Circular codifies details such as price, specifications, material volume, and supplier certifications, creating a transparent and easily navigable database.

This extensive database brings much-needed clarity and organisation to what was previously a disconnected, opaque, and inefficient industry. Circular takes the burden off its customers by handling the entire process of searching, sourcing, vetting, and onboarding suppliers. Compared to traditional, analogue methods that could take months or even years, Circular delivers results in a matter of days.

“Many of the global Fortune 500 have set aggressive targets to use up to 50% ‘recycled resin in the coming 3-5 years,” said Eclipse Partner Aidan Madigan-Curtis. “Globally, we manufacture north of 400 million tons of plastic goods per year, which will require not only a mind-bending amount of PCR to source but a complete overhaul of the supply chains and manufacturing processes used to procure plastic to meet these targets. In a world where procurement and product teams are expected to reimagine their supply chains almost overnight, Circular is the only single-pane-of-glass solution that can streamline the vendor identification, supplier qualification, specification standardization, quality assurance, and logistics to create consistency of supply, price, and quality to make PCR possible.”

“Buyers transitioning to recycled materials face the typical challenges of an emerging, analog market rife with inefficiency and a lack of transparency. They can’t find the material they need, and if they can find it, it’s too expensive – and if they can afford it, there are often quality or consistency issues,” said Ian Arthurs, Founder and CEO of Circular. “Existing relationship-driven systems fail to provide the information necessary for buyers to make fast informed decisions, and on the flip side, suppliers have a hard time being discovered by and getting access to serious buyers. Circular unblocks these common issues using data and technology to help buyers and sellers navigate the global market efficiently. Armed with our data, buyers and suppliers make faster and smarter business decisions and simplify their process to get sustainable materials into production now.”

“As a trusted global brand, Danone is on a mission to improve the circularity of our packaging,” said Marcu Alexander, Manager, Packaging Sustainability at Danone. “Increasing the use of post-consumer recycled plastics, in particular, is critical to meeting our ESG goals. Large manufacturers need more efficient ways to navigate new PCR markets, and Circular is taking an innovative approach there.”‍

Industry Titans Join the Movement

This funding surge comes after a period of impressive growth for Circular. They have attracted industry leaders like Shannon Gordon (former VP of Customer Experience at Walmart Global eCommerce) and Rob Ianelli (founder of Oceanworks) to their team. Founder Ian Arthurs (former COO of TaskRabbit and Medium) has also assembled a team with experience at Google and Airbnb.

Impressive Results and Ambitious Goals

In just the last quarter (Q4 2023), Circular sourced a staggering 35,000 tonnes of post-consumer recycled materials, generating $43 million in gross merchandise value. They have supported nine global brands across four continents, all while saving them an average of over 10% compared to market prices. This success demonstrates that PCR materials can be cost-competitive, dispelling the myth of a "green premium."

The Future of Sustainable Trade

With this new funding, Circular has ambitious plans. They will be expanding within their current industry, venturing into international markets, and introducing support for additional sustainable materials like paper and metals.

“In a nascent, highly fragmented PCR market, Circular.co’s platform can help address existing supply shortages. As brands increasingly prioritize sustainability, Circular offers a seamless marketplace solution to purchase PCR reliably. With a world-class, experienced team, Circular is poised to solve some of the unique requirements of the industry,” said Artur Faria, CEO of Oxygea. “Oxygea is the manager of Braskem’s $100 million corporate venture capital fund. Our investment in Circular aligns seamlessly with Braskem's circular economy objectives, and we look forward to supporting the company as it scales.”

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Source: Circular

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