This week Europe's largest digital procurement platform for recycled plastics, Cirplus announced that it has secured a seven-figure funding round.
The funding comes at a critical time for the circular economy. The plastics recycling market is characterised by high costs and often inadequate quality compared to virgin material.
Further, the EU is currently discussing concrete minimum targets for recycled content in packaging of 25 to 50 per cent.
In addition, the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation is to be introduced, which will set ecodesign requirements for certain product groups.
This means that the demand for recycled plastic will soon increase significantly.
However, the barriers to sourcing recycled plastic are still too high: recyclate is more expensive than virgin material, its quality is not good enough, demand for recyclate is greater than supply, and the procurement market is completely opaque.
Cirplus’ goal is to establish a comprehensive digital procurement solution for recycled plastics, to reduce the transaction costs for using recyclates on a global scale and secure their use in the long term.
To accomplish this, the company aggregates and qualifies manufacturers and traders of recycled pellets and regrind, among other products, and offers buyers simplified access to high volumes in fragmented markets.
The B2B platform is already used by more than 3,000 companies in the plastics and recycling industry from over 100 countries.
Cirplus is also the initiator of DIN SPEC 91446, the world's first standard for high-quality plastics recycling and digitalization, and the successor standard DIN SPEC 91484. DIN SPEC 91446 is already used in the packaging and construction industries and was adopted by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) in VDA Recommendation 284 at the beginning of 2023.
The lead investors of today’s funding include igus GmbH, the world's leading manufacturer of energy chain systems and plain bearings made from lubrication-free and low-wear high-performance plastics; and WEPA Ventures, a venture capital company supported by the European family-owned WEPA Group.
Cirplus intends to use the capital to develop its platform further and expand geographically.
According to Christian Schiller, founder, and CEO of Cirplus:
"igus, WEPA Ventures, and Cirplus share the vision of completely closing the plastics loop with digitalisation.
The experience of igus in engineering plastics, coupled with our knowledge of digitalisation, is the ideal basis for moving toward a digitalised circular economy across all industries."
Carl-Luis Rieger, CEO of WEPA Ventures, asserts that potential in various sectors, particularly in the packaging industry and B2B products and services, as well as in the circular economy:
"Circular economy will be the new normal and with our investment in Cirplus we are addressing growth potential in various sectors, particularly in the packaging industry and B2B products and services, as well as in the circular economy.
We see a high relevance for the circular transformation of the industry and are pleased to be on board as an investor in Cirplus to help shape further development towards a circular economy."
Michael Blass, CEO of e-chain systems at igus, says:
“We see a high relevance for the circular transformation of the industry and are pleased to be on board as an investor in Cirplus to help shape further development towards a circular economy.
Thinking about how we can expand our activities and make them available to everyone brought us together with Cirplus. With this investment, we are setting an example of considering sustainability together and creating a network to achieve more."
Lead image: Cirplus. Photo: uncredited.