Circulate Capital launches $106m fund to address Asia’s ocean plastic crisis

Singapore-based venture capital firm Circulate Capital has announced the launch of Circulate Capital Ocean Fund (CCOF), the world’s first investment fund dedicated to preventing Asia’s ocean plastic crisis.

Circulate Capital said it launched the $106-million fund, with founding investors and partners PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, to address the financing gap between private capital and resources needed by Asia’s wastewater sector.

A report by Ocean Conservancy showed that there is a net financing gap of between $28 and $40 per tonne for plastic collection in China, Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – the five top ocean polluting countries in the world. Asia is considered as the biggest source of ocean plastics, accounting for 60 percent of the world’s total.

“The good news is that we are able to reduce nearly 50% of the world’s plastic leakage by investing in the waste and recycling sector in Asia, and even more if we invest in innovative materials and technologies,” said Circulate Capital CEO Rob Kaplan.

In a statement, Circulate Capital said the fund will provide both debt and equity financing to waste management, recycling, and circular economy startups and SMEs in South and Southeast Asia focused on preventing plastic pollution. So far, the firm has already identified more than 200 investment potential opportunities in the region.

The launch of the fund comes at a time when the Singapore government is also beefing up its green investment efforts. Recently, the Monetary Authority of Singapore committed $2 billion of green investments directed at sustainable projects. “This is why we are here in Singapore – a strategic hub of Southeast Asia – to prove that investing in this sector is scalable for the region and can generate competitive returns while moving closer to solving the ocean plastic crisis,” Kaplan added.

Circulate Capital has also partnered with a number of nonprofit organizations, including Ocean Conservancy, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), and The Circulate Initiative (TCI), a nonprofit organization launched in October 2019 dedicated to ending ocean plastic pollution.

As a founding investor in the fund, Coca-Cola has committed to collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can that it produces by 2030.

“Beverage packaging does not need to become waste. By investing in the waste collection and recycling sector in this critical region, it can become a valuable material used again and again,” said Matt Echols, Vice President for Communications, Public Affairs, and Sustainability at Coca-Cola Asia Pacific.

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