rePurpose Global is a pioneering for-profit company that aims to address the pressing issue of plastic waste and create a bridge between sustainable consumption and the environment. Founded by Peter Wang Hjemdahl, Svanika Balasubramanian, and Aditya Siroya, rePurpose Global is committed to making a measurable impact by funding recycling and reuse infrastructure and equipment in areas burdened by plastic waste. In this article, we will explore the innovative approach taken by rePurpose Global and how it is making a significant difference in the fight against plastic pollution.
The Origins of rePurpose Global
The founders of rePurpose Global were confronted with the enormity and importance of the plastic waste problem during a visit to Deonar, one of the world's largest landfills in Mumbai, India. Standing amidst mountains of plastic waste, they witnessed waste pickers sorting out recyclable and valuable materials, while simultaneously observing the bustling urban skyline of India's financial capital. This stark contrast between the consumption-driven glass towers and the struggle for survival in the landfill motivated the founders to take action.
While working on an undergraduate project at the Wharton School of Business, the founders were tasked with finding ways to double the income of 10 million people living in extreme poverty in urban slums worldwide. Through their research, they discovered that waste picking was one of the most prevalent employment opportunities among the urban poor. They also uncovered the staggering amount of plastic waste that remains unrecycled, with billions of tons polluting the planet.
The Concept of "Plastic Neutrality"
To address these issues, the founders developed a proposal that led to the creation of rePurpose Global. Drawing inspiration from the concept of carbon offsets, rePurpose Global offers a unique approach to tackling plastic waste. By paying to have plastic removed from the environment, companies and individuals can become "plastic neutral." Each plastic credit purchased from rePurpose Global, priced at approximately 50 cents, represents one kilogram of plastic removed from the environment. This waste, which would have otherwise ended up in landfills, oceans, or incinerators, is effectively eliminated.
Bridging the Gap and Making an Impact
rePurpose Global has quickly gained recognition and support, attracting more than 200 clients, including major Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Colgate, and Credit Suisse. With their earnings, rePurpose Global is making a significant impact by removing 14 million pounds of plastic waste from the environment annually through 14 different projects worldwide. This includes funding the purchase of trucks and sorting facilities, as well as creating dignified working conditions for over 10,000 waste workers in countries like Indonesia, Kenya, and Colombia.
In addition to removing plastic waste, rePurpose Global also invests in research and innovations aimed at eliminating the use of plastic altogether. By providing funding for alternative solutions and technologies, rePurpose Global is actively contributing to a more sustainable future.
Recognition and Future Outlook
rePurpose Global's innovative approach has garnered attention and accolades. The company was a finalist in the 2021 Social Innovation Tournament sponsored by the European Investment Bank Institute, which promotes solutions to social and environmental problems. The team at rePurpose Global remains committed to finding efficient and eco-friendly ways to deal with the plastic waste they capture. While recycling is a key component, rePurpose Global also explores other avenues such as using low-value plastic as fuel for power generation or breaking it down into reusable components.
rePurpose Global's mission to bridge the gap between plastic waste and sustainable consumption is driven by a deep understanding of the environmental and social impact of plastic pollution. By offering the possibility of becoming "plastic neutral," rePurpose Global empowers companies and individuals to contribute to solutions while also reducing their plastic usage. Through their projects and initiatives, rePurpose Global is making a tangible difference in the fight against plastic waste, providing dignified working conditions for waste pickers, and investing in research to eliminate plastic use altogether. As we continue to address the plastic problem on a systematic level, rePurpose Global serves as an inspiring example of how innovation and collaboration can create a sustainable future for all.