Investment firm Closed Loop Partners announced today a significant investment from a group of major U.S. consumer brands into its the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund (CLIF), dedicated to promoting a circular economy.

The nine companies – 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, Keurig Dr. Pepper, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and The Walmart Foundation are original investors in the fund, and are today extending more than $54 million in capital commitments into CLIF. Since the establishment of the fund in 2014, Amazon, Danone North America, Danone Waters of America, Nestlé Waters North America and Starbucks have joined as well.

Circular economy is becoming an increasingly central focus in sustainable investing, and emerging as an important ESG investment theme. The practice involves refocusing the entire industrial process – from product design through production, distribution, usage  and disposal – on eliminating waste through the continual use and re-use of resources, providing an alternative to the current linear economic model (“take, make, dispose”) by avoiding waste and reducing the need for virgin raw materials.

The CLIF fund has focused on supporting additional recycling infrastructure and spurring growth and technological innovation around end markets for post-consumer materials across North America. Collectively, the brands hves already leveraged more than $200 million in co-investment, supporting the development of domestic recycling infrastructure, local jobs and new markets in cities across the country, including:

  • Eureka Recycling, Minneapolis, Minnesota: A locally operated nonprofit social enterprise, Eureka recovers nearly 100,000 tons of primarily residential recycling per year. This diverts valuable material from the incinerator or landfill and protects the health and environment of the local community. Eureka prides itself on its best-in-class operation, producing high quality material; the facility has one of the lowest contamination rates in the country. Eighty percent of the facility’s material stays in Minnesota and ninety percent in the Midwest, further spurring local growth. Eureka Recycling works everyday to demonstrate that waste is preventable not inevitable.
  • Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), Florida: Since building its own state-of-the-art single stream facility, the ECUA materials recovery facility has become an asset for a region that had not previously had a long-term or reliable solution for processing recyclables. The facility generates economic benefits in the form of avoided tipping fees and revenue from commodity sales. For the 21-month period starting in January 2017, the facility generated $4.2 million in economic benefits. To date, the facility has operated at a profit margin between 10% and 30%, which gives ECUA capital to invest in other critical water, sewage, and solid waste infrastructure and programs.
  • TemperPack, Virginia: On the forefront of materials science innovation, TemperPack manufactures proprietary plant and fiber-based insulated packaging solutions for cold chain shipments, perishable food and pharmaceuticals. Their products replace the need for styrofoam, a type of plastic that contaminates recycling facilities. Instead, TemperPack’s solutions are certified curbside recyclable, bringing value to recovery systems across the U.S. as their materials are kept in circulation.

Closed Loop Partners stated that today’s reinvestment announcement builds on the success of these projects and will fund similar projects to accelerate and build circular supply chains. Thirty-seven of the world’s largest consumer brands and retailers, including many of those fueling this investment, have made public commitments to use recycled plastics in their packaging within the next ten years. This signals the opportunity to shift billions of dollars from the “take, make, waste” linear supply chain to circular supply chains. Current projections indicate new real demand of 5 million to 7.5 million metric tons of recycled content by 2030, requiring an increase of supply of 200-300%. It will only be possible to meet this need through greater collective investment from brands to move technology along faster.

Gayle Schueller, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, said:

“At 3M, Science for Circular is one of our top sustainability priorities and we are committed to advancing design solutions that do more with less material. To reach our targets and promote a global circular economy, we need to ensure recycled materials are widely available. Closed Loop Partners is on the front lines of this work and their investment in recycling facilities across the country has driven much needed growth. We are proud of our continued collaboration and aim to build on the momentum we are seeing in the recycling sector to create a better future.”

Virginie Helias, Chief Sustainability Officer, Procter & Gamble, added:

“Now more than ever we are committed to making a positive impact on society and the environment. Strengthening and developing recycling infrastructure across North America is a critical part of this. Closed Loop Partners’ investment track record proves that investing in the development of the circular economy is not only environmentally beneficial but also good for the economic recovery. Increased access to recycling creates thriving communities, spurring innovation in end markets, getting materials back into supply chains for reuse and creating a healthier environment.”