Incubation Network launches 3 partners in Thailand helping local startups end ocean plastic waste
The Incubation Network, an initiative that sources, scales and supports circular solutions to combat plastic pollution, is partnering with three organizations to provide early-stage startups and entrepreneurs in Thailand with knowledge, connections and mentorship to commercialize and scale their innovations tackling plastic waste.
The impact-driven initiative, powered by SecondMuse and The Circulate Initiative, has been active in Thailand since late 2019, along with other countries in South and Southeast Asia. The partnerships with Seedstars, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and STEAM Platform announced today will channel US$2 million (around 68 million baht) in strategic funding from ECCA Family Foundation to support innovative solutions to reduce, reuse or recycle plastic waste in Thailand.
Christian Algot Enevoldsen, Founder and Chairman of ECCA Family Foundation said, “ECCA Family Foundation is proud to support The Incubation Network because we strongly believe in its innovative approach towards reducing plastic leakage, improving livelihoods of people working with waste, and supporting transitions towards circular economies. Thailand is already making bold efforts to address its plastic waste challenges, and organizations like The Incubation Network can provide the country’s innovation ecosystem and entrepreneurs with technical support, connections and funding that will help them accelerate their development of commercially viable solutions.”
Thailand ranks 6th in countries contributing to marine plastic pollution and is responsible for an estimated 322,000 tonnes of the 8–12 million tonnes that end up in the oceans every year. Much of the country’s waste is mismanaged resulting in it being incinerated, dumped in unsanitary landfills, or leaked into the environment.
Current public and private sector initiatives to tackle the issue can be amplified by more strategic investment in the local innovation ecosystem and technical support to develop scalable solutions, said Sirinchayaa Preechapatsakool, Ecosystem Consultant, SecondMuse.
“The Incubation Network’s focus on Thailand stems from the growing public demand for action to end marine plastic pollution and private sector support for sustainability initiatives, the combination of which provides fertile ground for locally-based startups and innovators to help drive the region’s circular economy initiatives.”
The Incubation Network and its three partners hope to catalyze the local sustainability innovation ecosystem through initiatives such as the Thailand Plastics Circularity Accelerator which will offer targeted technical assistance customized for selected ventures, the Thailand Waste Management & Recycling Program, a 3-month early-stage venture building incubator, and establishing a national Waste Action Network. The Incubation Network will also help provide focused investment and develop relationships across the public and private sectors to equip startups with access to mentorship and best practice.
The partnerships are being launched alongside a report that identifies the main gaps across Thailand’s waste management value chain which would benefit from funding and innovation. For example, Thailand’s packaging sector accounts for nearly 60% of total local plastic leakage, largely due to the short lifespan of plastics packaging. This presents a significant opportunity to develop solutions to increase the recycling processing capacity, the demand for post-consumer recycled plastic products and the consumer awareness of the benefits of recycling.
The report identified five areas of opportunity to advance the circular economy — where products, services and systems are designed to maximize their value and minimize waste — and reduce plastic waste: helping local recyclers tap into demand for recycled products; materials innovation to reduce virgin plastic use; the inclusion and support of the informal sector; encouraging consumers to adjust their behavior; and helping municipal solid waste collectors work toward a circular model.
The Incubation Network has helped to scale more than 75 startups to date with incubator-like programs that put the focus on local plastic issues. Successful projects in Singapore and Indonesia have spotlighted issues such as why flexible packaging has low recycling value in Southeast Asia and how to introduce circular economy foundations to startups.
Startups wanting to join the Thailand Plastics Circularity Accelerator, a collaboration by The Incubation Network and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste can visit: https://bit.ly/TPCA2021.
Applications for the Waste Management & Recycling Academy are open from 30 September to 22 October: https://bit.ly/3o3A5u4
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