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Seeking funding and connections, recyclers turn to business incubator NextCycle

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Dive briefs:

  • NextCycle, the business acceleration program of the Recycling Market Development Initiative, is being marketed as a tool to advance the state’s circular economy plan and help grow businesses in Michigan, Colorado and Washington.
  • In Wednesday’s webinar hosted by the Northeast Recycling Council, recyclers and businesses in the public and private sectors will learn how NextCycle connects them to a network of business connections, empowering them with funding opportunities and technology consultants to help them become better. Install equipment faster, expand access to local recycling, and accelerate business development.
  • The presenter said the business accelerator model is an important way to build investment and partnerships across the recycling system, helping to complete projects faster, as well as helping state environmental agencies, local governments and recyclers , end markets, and strengthen relationships between equipment manufacturers.

Dive Insight:

As more states raise diversion goals and pass laws establishing expanded producer responsibility programs, NextCycle is working to help businesses and local governments keep pace with the growing demands of a circular economy. I believe there is.

According to Elisa Seltzer, senior consultant at Resource Recycling Systems, companies looking to start or expand their recycling and waste diversion projects are faced with financing challenges, lack of key partners, uncertain end markets and growth plans. They often face obstacles such as lack of support.

NextCycle is an initiative of RRS, and so are each participant. state environmental agencies and numerous industry partners Carton Council, Closed Loop Partners, Dow, Foodservice Packaging Institute, State Recycling Coalitions, etc.

Applicants can choose different “tracks” based on their business goals, but the end result is to take a particular project (such as a facility expansion or R&D goal) from spark to reality. .

Most of the webinars focused on the impact of a program in Michigan that aims to increase recycling rates to 30% by 2025 and 45% by 2030. The current rate is about 19.3%..

Matt Flechter, recycling market development specialist for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, said Michigan is investing in recycling markets and circular economy projects to get closer to collecting the estimated 2.7 million tons of resources needed to reach said I need to. Aim for a recycling rate of 45%. EGLE leads next cycle in a state.

“The market is very important to create that demand, but it is also important to make sure the system is working so that these materials can progress to the end uses that manufacturers require. ” he said.

Since it was first announced in 2020, NextCycle Michigan has supported 90 different teams working on foam recycling programs, municipal data collection projects for market feasibility studies, vermicompost startups, and more. said Seltzer.

Paulina Leung, Chief Sustainability Officer at Emterra, said connecting with NextCycle will accelerate two key infrastructure goals. The recycler used her EGLE grant to purchase a robot that sorts food service tableware and another sorter for her stream of glass. This will expand her partnership with transfer stations and smaller MRFs that have less capacity to sort cartons, she said.

Emterra also secured Lansing MRF funding for a new educational center and used NextCycle connections to advise on how to best design educational content.

Rebecca Hu, co-founder of Glacier, an AI robotics sorting company, said NextCycle helped the company expand from breezy San Francisco to Michigan, where MRFs in two regions were helped during Michigan’s harsh winters. He said he plans to quality test the latest model when it is installed. “We are excited to be embarking and hope this will be a case study for further business expansion,” she said.

NextCycle is well established in Michigan, but this program first established In Colorado, the state’s Department of Public Health and Environmental Affairs is leading it with public and private partners similar to the Michigan model. So far, 24 teams have launched projects to improve recycling and reuse across the state, including Table to Farm Compost, the first facility to serve the state’s rural communities. It required building a business plan and finding a source of funding to open, Seltzer said.

Businesses and local governments are making these investments as Colorado prepares to implement New EPR for packaging lawis calling on packaging manufacturers to help fund a statewide recycling program.

next cycle washington started the program this year. According to Kamal Patel, co-founder of Traversal Design, who provides technical support for the program, it is in the process of designing how it fits into the state’s unique needs and has been well served. We are working specifically to create a program structure that puts an undeveloped community on the table. This includes creating a more accessible communication strategy, ensuring that his members of the community take at least half of the decision-making roles, and identifying barriers that may complicate the NextCycle application process. included.

“We want to encourage more participation, more participation, more collaboration. But to do that, we need a paradigm shift in how we engage with the community,” said Patel. I’m here.