Ecosurety adopts ‘network creator’ mantle to launch Circularety waste investment platform

Resource efficiency specialist Ecosurety has today (28 September) introduced a new "revolutionary" platform that uses money generated from issuing waste recycling compliance documents to fund transparent projects that aid the waste and recycling industry.

The Circularety platform was launched in London last night, and uses obligation money from Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) – which serve as evidence to prove that packaging material has been recycled into new content – to invest in new equipment, facilities and awareness campaigns aimed at boosting closed-loop systems in the sector.

The company hopes that the platform will highlight that investment wasn’t a “necessary evil”, but rather a catalyst to boost new innovations to assist regulation that has remained largely unchanged since its inception in 1997.

Ecosurety’s managing director James Piper said: “The PRN system is a good one in itself, because it has helped the UK to significantly increase its recycling rates over the years. However, producers and industry bodies have expressed concern about the system, which does not encourage transparency, particularly in relation to what happens to PRN money once obligations have been purchased. 

“Circularety means for the first time producers will be able to choose exactly where their PRN money is spent, and reprocessors will be able to put forward concrete investment projects that will benefit the recycling industry.”

PRNs are commonly issues by accredited reprocessors once a tonne of packaging material has been recycled. The PRNs can then be sold on to companies wanting to prove that it has been recycling its waste to create new products. However, the current format isn’t able to offer producers clarity as to how money is being invested.

Despite more than £565m being spent on PRNs since its creation in 2007, the Circularety platform would mark the first time that UK companies governed by Producer Responsibility Obligation Regulations to minimise waste would be given transparent knowledge on where money is being invested.

Network creators

The new platform encourages reprocessors to upload projects onto an online database. From here, a producer can select which projects they wish to fund with PRN obligations. The PRNs are committed at set prices – as price volatility altered standard costs by £50 last year alone – to guarantee investment, while reprocessors will be spot-checked regularly to track the deployment of the project.

Reprocessors can upload images, descriptions and videos of the project into the online library and will fund the rest of the project if the PRNs don’t account for 100% of the cost. Penalties will also be worked into contracts to ensure reprocessors deliver on project outlines and timeframes.

Piper hopes that the new platform would model the success of “network creators” such as Uber, AirBnB and Facebook, by matching users with content and solutions rather than providing it through a single source. In order to do so, Ecosurety has introduced technology to a market that is “not particularly technologically orientated”.

“There’s a fundamental problem that existing stakeholders don’t let producers choose where to spend money,” Piper said. “It’s why we want to address the transparency issue and the only way we can do that is to bring reprocessors and producers together. Ultimately there’s no dialogue between these areas and ultimately we want to bring it in and overlap it.

“We’ve found a way to do it, we can create a platform and use technology in a market which is not particularly technologically orientated.”

Obligated producers – which is any company handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging and with a UK turnover of more than £2m – will receive reports providing detailed breakdowns of how its money was spent. Ecosurety is hoping these will be used to interact with boards and publicise CSR schemes.

Circularety will operate as a beta platform until it goes live in January 2017. Ecosurety has already sourced producers and reprocessors for the scheme, but others are invited to join.

Matt Mace

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