One of the biggest hurdles in the transformation toward a circular economy is the lack of transparency in often globally stretching supply chains. It makes it very difficult to make verifiable sustainability claims. Furthermore, it makes the reuse, recycling or upcycling of products at the end of their life inefficient and unprofitable, if not impossible. The Hague Tech-based Circularise identified this problem and decided to step forward and build software solutions that help bring transparency in supply chains. Their solutions bring a circular economy at scale a large step closer to reality and are gaining traction among the worlds largest brands. A recent capital injection of €11 million will accelerate their growth and positive impact on our planet even further.
The Circularise journey began after the company’s founders Meshba Shabur and Jordi de Vos visited a number of recyclers in the Netherlands, only to discover that many of the resources we send there end up being either incinerated or dumped on landfills. They also found that the reason for this is that recyclers don’t know what’s inside all these products and at which quality and quantity.
Circularise brings transparency to supply chains by providing a digital product passport for materials, parts and products. The passport contains information that is critical for recycling, such as origin, certifications, portion of recycled materials, quality and quantity of the product’s compounds etcetera. The passport is then stored on a blockchain to safeguard its validity. Circularise works with customers across the supply chain, beginning with the oil producers and moving up to plastic resin producers, component manufacturers and at the end of the line are the brand owners and original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s), mainly in the electronics and automotive industry.
Circularise intentionally started at the bottom of the supply chain in order to empower these customers to take charge of which data they share, e.g. certificates and compliance data, while keeping competitive information undisclosed. It achieves this with its patent pending Smart Questioning technology, which allows suppliers to be in control of which data they want to share. As these segments started to use Circularise’s system, companies upstream the supply chain were added, to include component manufacturers and OEM’s.
Benefiting from The Hague's business ecosystem
Their participation in the YES!Delft programme was instrumental to the startup in its early days and helped the team explore different business frameworks and find paying customers. “In our case, this was arguably the most challenging time for our business, because there was no specific demand to work with digital product passports. Also, our focus on the chemicals and plastics industry, which is by nature a very conservative industry, didn’t make life easier for us,” says Igor Konstantinos, head of Marketing at Circularise.
A break-through came after an EU-grant awarded to Circularise in 2019 allowed the company to scale just enough to gain more traction in the industry and advance their product into a proper well-functioning solution. In 2019-2020 the team doubled from 6 to 12 employees, which propelled the company into maturity and shaped the company’s operational tactics. Of the €11 million granted in late 2022, 4 million consisted of grants.
Building an ecosystems where impact businesses thrive
“We are very proud to see impact companies such as Circularise grow here, embedded in the impact business community,” says Coos Santing, Programme Manager at Impact City for the municipality of The Hague. “As these companies grow, so does their positive impact. In this case they are bringing a circular economy at global scale a significant step further,” he continues, “that makes me hopeful and excited about the future.”
Circularise is based at The Hague Tech, a dynamic startup community at the economic centre of The Hague, and also home to YES!Delft and impact incubator World Startup. YES!Delft was attracted to The Hague in early 2019, as part of ImpactCity’s efforts to strengthen its business ecosystem. “Being part of that community, which is very international, diverse and ambitious, is inspiring and gives us new ideas and insights. It also connects us to new people with knowledge and experience we may not even know we needed, so that access to talent is invaluable to us as well. And last but not least, The Hague’s heritage as the international city of peace and justice and the city’s investments in the impact business ecosystem, has also attracted impact investors such as 4Impact, which is one of the investors we selected to partner with in our latest investment round,” Igor concludes.