New $100 million+ VC Fund Aims to Solve the Ocean Plastic Crisis in Asia
“Planet or plastic?”
This was a poignant question posed by a series of stories published in the National Geographic magazine in 2018, about the global plastic problem.
Two years later, the situation is no better.
Disposing plastic is not easy. It takes centuries to decompose, doesn’t add any value to the soil (in fact, it causes soil leaching), and inevitably ends up in water bodies, where it then kills marine life, and contaminates the water with microplastics, rendering it unfit for consumption.
An estimated 8 billion tons of plastic waste enters oceans annually, via land use, and makes up as much as 95 per cent of all marine litter today.
And Asia is the biggest culprit of all because most of the plastic affluent in the ocean comes from Asia - mainly China and Southeast Asia - in the form of single-use plastic, a majority of which is used for packaging purposes.
Efforts to ameliorate the plastic problem include government initiatives that ban single-use plastic and levy higher taxes on companies that dump plastic in the oceans, and efforts from social, not-for-profit enterprises that have met with success in getting the conversation, and some action, going, but apart from CSR activities, the private sector has been largely detached from the cause.
The start-up space though has been buzzing with innovative ideas and solutions to solve the problem using state-of-the-art technology, nanobots, and artificial intelligence, and even though external investment has been slow, more and more venture capitalists have been getting interested in companies with a social angle.
One such investor is Singapore-based VC fund management company Circulate Capital, which, in December 2019, launched a $106 million fund dedicated to solving Asia’s plastic crisis - the first of its kind in the world.