HomeGermany-StartupsDigitising waste management to reach Net Zero: Interview with Felix Heinricy, Co-Founder...

Digitising waste management to reach Net Zero: Interview with Felix Heinricy, Co-Founder of Resourcify

Resourcify is a pioneer in helping companies to digitise waste management and recycling. It’s platform gives companies end-to-end control and transparency of their waste management program and access to Resourcify’s network of independent recyclers. Thousands of companies like McDonald’s and Bosch are using Resourcify to help them transition into the circular economy.

Founded in 2015, the startup is based in Hamburg and it’s so far raised a total of €9 million.

We caught up with their Co-Founder, CRO, & Managing Director, Felix Heinricy to learn more about Resourcify and to discuss the future of achieving Net Zero with the circular economy.

Tell us more about the early days of Resourcify and how you got started.

During the evolution of our product, we tried numerous different tools and approaches to revolutionise companies’ way of thinking when it comes to waste. We listened to feedback and our product transformed. What has always remained the same, however, is our vision of enabling a circular economy and a waste-free future – that has been our cornerstone. That has been incredibly helpful for our team to remain both open and focused.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you have encountered since starting Resourcify? How did you overcome them?

The waste management industry is rather traditional. Not only do they utilise paperwork and faxes in their daily business, they also rely on networks that have been in place for decades. This can prove to be a challenge for any new player entering the industry.

We want to change that. The U.S. is already a few steps ahead when it comes to digitisation. Here, well-known investors like Leonardo DiCaprio have already hit the billion-dollar waste management market and are investing heavily – which is great for the industry.

Resourcify has a strong client portfolio consisting of some of the world’s biggest companies like Bosch, McDonalds, and Johnson & Johnson. How did you secure these partnerships?

Work on a solution that is exactly tailored to the needs of companies you would like to have – that would be the best advice. We’ve been a great believer in not only listening to our clients and viewing them as sparring partners, but we also strive in the continuation of the development of the tool together. However, I remember when we started onboarding Hornbach as a client – we felt that we solved a big pain point for some big companies. That was the initial starting point when it came to working towards larger corporations.

How have you approached growing your team at Resourcify?

That was rather natural. In the beginning, we, as founders, did everything ourselves. Then we saw potential in an area, so we started hiring these people. We also hired people we thought were talented and passionate about our vision that we believed would be a great “asset” along the way. As we’ve grown, we’ve continued to look for team members who share the same values, but we’ve also paid close attention to hiring for cultural additions. This means that we brought people into the team from different backgrounds and with diverse perspectives to help us become a stronger business and team.

How have you approached raising investment?

Luckily, cleantech companies are getting a lot of awareness at the present moment. That’s crucial for the industry and a great opportunity for us. We are currently in the process of closing our Series A funding round to support our team and product growth. What’s great is that some of our current investors introduced us to new ones that were interested in our platform and some investors approached us directly.

Let’s talk more about the circular economy. Can you tell us about how the circular economy can help businesses reach Net Zero?

In my opinion, the topic has received too little attention – precisely because studies such as those of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation show that a turnaround towards renewable energy is necessary, but can only contribute so much in achieving Net Zero – the other 45% comes from a circular economy. As put by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, “creating a truly sustainable energy transition means factoring the circular economy in at the design stage”. This means products must be designed for “longer life, easy disassembly and recycling”. While it may seem daunting, a circular economy gets to the root of business operations and creates a framework for transitioning towards more sustainable thinking and operations, even in how waste is managed.

The great thing about a circular economy is that it would help in many ways. A circular economy encourages a fundamental reorientation in the way waste is perceived. Rather than viewing it as an extra burden that only costs the business money to dispose of, circularity encourages businesses to see waste as a resource from which value can be extracted. This secures material supply chains and makes them more sustainable and efficient, creates innovative products recovered from these materials and opens new ways to salvage what was once deemed “unusable”, keeping it in the economy rather than a landfill. As production of materials eats up gigantic amounts of energy, we could also save in this area by reusing already existing material. What’s also immense: the emissions while producing these goods. Consequently, we have huge potential in saving millions of tons of CO2 emissions. Therefore, in tandem with renewable energy, a circular economy creates the paradigm shift necessary to achieve net zero goals.

What further action and support is needed from governments, consumers, etc. to further advance the circular economy?

Consumers have a higher influence than they often think. While companies must transition, every entity in the loop has its own part to contribute. Consumer behaviour is increasingly shifting towards sustainable practices – for example, the Flash Eurobarometer 397 conducted by the European Commission showed that 54% of consumers consider the environmental impact of products and services and 77% of EU citizens are “generally willing to pay more for products if they are confident that they are environmentally friendly”. Another example of this shift can be seen in the Behavioural Study on Consumers’ Engagement in the Circular Economy report: 93% of respondents attempted to keep things they own for as long as possible while 78% reported recycling unwanted/broken items while 64% stated they repaired them.

Awareness is also key. People need to know that there is an alternative to a linear economy. There is a lot of conflicting information floating around which can be confusing to those who are actively trying to be more sustainable.

We know that not a single entity operates in a vacuum – businesses, politicians and consumers must all work together as they are influenced by one another.

What does the future of the circular economy look like? What other circular economy tech / innovation or startups are you excited about?

In theory, the circular economy holds a promising future for the planet, economy and society. In practice, due to a lack of consistent regulations across all countries, it is hard to say how quickly and to which extent we will reach circularity. Nonetheless, there are evident shifts in business operations and governmental policy – e.g. the European Green Deal and the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Report Directive. Also, companies themselves like IKEA’s ambition to be circular by 2030 and Frankfurt airport’s closing the loop on water bottle recycling through waste management digitisation show that there are solid efforts being made to go circular.

While it will take time, the efforts are still in place and expanding into various industries and being noticed – and accepted – by a variety of parties involved. In essence, the future is bright, and circularity will become the new norm. We cannot keep participating in a linear economy and consuming at the scale we are as it is unsustainable and harmful. If we foster the efforts today, the future of the circular economy and in general definitely looks better than where we are heading now.

Startups that I’m excited about are:

  • Greyparrot – increases transparency and automation in recycling to unlock the financial value of waste.
  • PlanA – a startup empowering true decarbonisation by analysing emissions and ESG data.
  • Shellworks – creates sustainable packaging alternatives to plastic that don’t compromise on performance or aesthetics. They show necessary different approaches to sustainability but have the same goal: pushing a sustainable and net zero future.

What’s next for Resourcify?

We want to grow. We want to see more corporations using our platform to work towards a more sustainable future. We want to clean up the mess that was caused by big polluters and the lack of regulations in the last decades. Therefore, we are building a digital platform beyond simple waste management. We have the tools and the expertise to help companies make the transition to a circular economy and we guide them at every step of their journey.

Amanda Pun
Amanda Pun
Amanda is passionate about startups, particularly in the FinTech and B2C spaces. She was one of the first employees of fintech startup, Homeppl, and has expertise in Product Management and Operations. She is based in London and originally from Canada.

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