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Circulate Capital brings corporate customers to sustainable-oceans investing

ImpactAlpha, July 18 – More than half the plastics in the oceans comes from South and Southeast Asia.

That presents a high-impact opportunity to invest in the region’s waste management and recycling infrastructure, says Rob Kaplan. He has launched Circulate Capital, a spinoff of Closed Loop Partners, to mobilize $150 million for such ventures.

Circulate’s roster of corporate partners, including both Pepsico and Coca-Cola, as well as 3M, Kimberly Clark, Dow and Procter & Gamble, have unmet demand for recycled materials.

“It is one of the things that will give us more success, having the largest buyers working on this together,” Kaplan told ImpactAlpha.

Circulate has looked at 50 ventures in Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand; the firm is circulating an RFP for entrepreneurs seeking financing in the range of $2-$5 million.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kaplan said of the growing attention to ocean health and ocean plastic, in particular.

  • Oceans moment. The boomlet in impact investing in sustainable oceans and seafood includes the $37.5 million first close for Althelia’s Sustainable Oceans Fund; two investments by Pescador Holdings, developed by Encourage Capital; and Aqua-Spark, a Dutch-based aquaculture fund, which has raised more than $20 million.
  • Ocean tech. The nonprofit Sustainable Ocean Alliance has selected five startups for its first Ocean Solutions Accelerator. They include LOLIWARE, a NY-based making compostable, edible materials from seaweed; Sydney-based BlockCycle, which uses blockchain to help companies, cities and individuals track waste; and CalWave Power Technologies, which is harnessing wave energy. Each company will get a $25,000 investment.

As more and more people were pointing the the problem, no one was pointing to the solution,”  Kaplan said of his jump from Closed Loop to Circulate. “I thought, ‘I have the skillset and experience to tackle this environmental challenge.’”

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