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Netherlands and Vietnam-based social enterprise Upp! is on a mission to fight the global plastic pollution crisis by closing the plastic waste loop with a local approach. Using a circular economy approach, Upp! hopes to save plastic waste from landfills and oceans by introducing circular plastic factories in 10 cities by 2025. The company is one of many environmentally-driven startups working on much-needed solutions to fight the waste epidemic, especially in Asia.
Founded in 2017 in the Netherlands and later expanding to operate in Vietnam as well, Upp! is a plastic upcycling startup hoping to close the waste loop throughout the plastic supply chain. The company supports companies, communities and local authorities to become plastic waste-free by using plastic waste to make 100% recyclable “re-plastic” products through their circular plastic factory concept.
Importantly, Upp!’s projects are carried out locally. In order to close the plastic supply chain loop entirely, the company works alongside a number of local partners in order to make repurposed plastic products. These repurposed plastic products can then be used in many ways, from becoming construction materials to building recycled parks. For instance, Upp! has partnered up with TCC Group in Vietnam to set up a factory location in Pu Quoc to use plastic waste collected from beaches to make deck material and beach furniture for hotels and resorts in the area.
Since its inception, the startup has setup ongoing operations in Vietnam, the Netherlands and most recently Singapore. They hope to be able to expand to run activities in 5 countries and 10 cities, saving 250 million kilograms of plastic waste annually by 2025.
These solutions are incredibly important, given the state of our planet’s global plastic waste crisis. Every year, 300 million tonnes of plastic gets thrown out as waste, with under 10% being reused or recycled. This is also especially important for the Asian region, which is currently battling a plastic waste crisis both due to poor public awareness and foreign illegal waste imports.
Other startups are also innovating solutions to combat plastic waste. WAVE Eco Solutions, for instance, has developed a biodegradable and hot water soluble bio-plastic bag made out of cassava instead of plastic polymers. A young scientist in the Philippines has also come up with a bio-plastic using mango and seaweed, both locally abundant ingredients, in order to solve both food waste and plastic pollution. Upp! also joins a host of new apps meant to tackle our rising global waste crisis. Just last week Hong Kong charity Crossroads debuted their new GoodCity upcycling app aimed at helping people donate clothes, household goods and other no-longer needed items to those in need.
Lead image courtesy of Impact Hub Amsterdam.