A major repercussion of Covid-19 has been the global increase in disposables and waste. A report by Defra, the U.K. government’s environmental agency, found that during the pandemic, waste in England increased by over 881,000 tonnes, which also coincided with the lowest recycling rates since 2011. And yet, a 2021 report from charity WRAP found recycling to be an established norm in the vast majority (90%) of households in the country.
Fighting the plastic pandemic, Stockholm-based startup Bower directly rewards users with money or coupons when they recycle everyday waste items. The green tech app has now raised €4.1 million to expand globally, starting with the U.K.
The round was led by blq Invest, a new investor in the company, together with existing investors, Almi Invest GreenTech, Verdane Foundation, Orkla Ventures and other major investors participating. The platform has raised €5 million in investment until now.
Founded in 2015 by the brother-sister duo, Suwar Mert (CEO) and Berfin Roza Mert (COO), the Nordic platform allows users to scan anything with a barcode, from milk cartons to crisp packets, and receive money, coupons or discounts when they take the packaging to a recycling point.
The company has partnered with brands such as consumer giants Nestlé, L’Oréal and Unilever to help them reach their sustainability goals. Companies using Bower can follow their products’ life cycles through the app’s data, and understand consumer behaviour in terms of item types, and recycling times and locations.
Suwar Mert, co-founder and CEO, Bower said: “The investment will enable us to launch our platform internationally and help us achieve our mission of ridding the world of rubbish. The Bower community of recyclers are a brilliant example of how we can all do our part and how recycling can benefit the planet and people simultaneously.”
Kamjar Hajabdolahi, founding partner, blq Invest, said: “Bower’s app is about promoting what we can all do, as individuals, to reduce our carbon footprint and live in a more sustainable way. This is a mission we strongly believe in and so we’re excited to be part of Bower’s international expansion. Meaningful data showing how people tend to recycle is crucial if we want to make sustainability scaleable for all, and bring brands along on that journey.”
The free-to-use app’s 300,000 users in the Nordic region recycle more than 1.4 million packages every month. According to the platform, it has helped save over 1,000 tonnes (1 million kg) of CO2.