JOOST KAMERMANS, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF TECH PLATFORM SEENONS, ABOUT THEIR MISSION: A WASTE-FREE WORLD
Seenons is the only independent tech platform for saving waste in Europe. The platform brings together the organizations in and outside of the waste chain, e.g., consultancy partners and logistic companies. They connect those that create waste with those that re-use it to reduce waste and accelerate the transition towards a circular economy. Co-founder and CEO Joost Kamermans tells us more about how it works, the challenges and their vision. All with one clear mission in mind: a waste-free world.
Give us an idea of the Seenons proposition and crucially, how it works, what the client will experience?
We help organisations with their waste management, or material management, if you will. What one might consider as waste, the other might consider as a valuable input to their production process.
Especially large organisations tend to have many tonnes of waste.
Through our proposition, we guide large enterprises on the R Ladder. We look into their waste, and look for materials that we can either reduce (meaning prevent), reuse, or recycle. Through our large network of local partners, specialized in processing specific streams, we can typically match waste with those who see value in it. This allows the business that disposes of the waste to make money, save materials and to make impact.
Our tech-platform is independent and offers our clients transparency to regain control over your organisation’s waste. Our mission is to save waste together.
Where does the inspiration for this come from with you?
The realization that it simply makes no sense. We are currently wasting 2.5 billion tonnes annually. Not only is this terrible for the environment, it also makes no economic sense. We keep digging for new materials that become scarcer and scarcer, whilst at the same time burning these very same materials. That is just absolute nonsense.
I learned through my previous job as a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, that the business model for most organisations in the waste industry is built on more waste. Whereas the truth is, that we as a society want and need less waste. Therefore we needed to build a new company that makes money on reducing waste. Because we do not own the trucks or the processing plants ourselves, we can truly advise on waste reduction, which is ultimately what is best for all.
The problem is very complex, but we are very hopeful to see that many large enterprises these days realize that we can’t carry on like this. More and more organisations want to move towards a circular economy, and we are here to help them with that journey.
The guiding vision is the idea of the circular economy. That’s crucial right? Is that a combination of technology, logistics, and sustainability?
The circular economy is very much a logistical challenge. The materials that we dispose often still have value, but it is hard to collect them in a separate way in an affordable and efficient manner.
Through technology, we can assess the value of these materials and find the most optimal route to ensure that it does not go to waste. By ensuring that these materials arrive at a place where they still have value, we bring both economic and environmental sustainability.
And there’s a real cultural change in that isn’t there? Are there options out there for everything?
I partially agree. I believe most people do actually care about the environment, but it is simply too complex as a consumer to make the difference. The rules for separation differ everywhere, and the amount of layered products that can hardly be recycled at all is way too high.
By redesigning the system, so that the costs are put where they should be put, we can ensure that producers will design their products differently. If you as a producer are obliged to use X% of recycled materials, which cannot be virgin, in your product, you will think about your packaging. It should be easy to reuse, or at least recycle. Because if not, the costs of your packaging will go up by a lot. This makes the materials much more valuable. Once that is the case, we see that people will treat it
I have done much litter picking in my life as a volunteer, and of all the crazy things you find on the street, you never find a €50 bill. And if it would accidently fall on the ground, someone would surely pick it up and “reuse it”. Simply because it has value!
Many homeowners and businesses will say they’ve been recycling for years, even that their consciences are clear. Is that true, or are many of us kidding ourselves?
We are kidding ourselves, but as explained, we can only break through this cycle if we all change.
- The government needs to make legislation that result in a level playing field, where reuse and recyclability are the only options
- Businesses need to innovate the way they deal with packaging and their logistical setup to get it back
- Consumers need to do what they can to separate, recycle and return materials
With those steps, I’m convinced we can get there. Governments need to step up their game and ensure recycled materials are more valuable than virgin. We cannot expect of consumers to buy more expensive products because they are more sustainable, simply because not everyone can afford that… We, as a global society, are counting on them before it is too late and I’m here to remind them of this.
Why I know this works? Look at gas.
- We used to have “infinite gas” in the Netherlands
- Now we are out, and importing it. It simply has become scarce in our part of the world. Nobody thought about that 50 years ago…
- All of a sudden, everyone is insulating their houses. We should have done that 50 years ago… That would have saved both the environment and our wallets
- Now we do know, and it will also happen in other parts of the world, so let’s learn from the past and timely become mindful of our resources and of our home, planet earth
Do you have an example where Seenons has made a difference, where your offering has absolutely worked.
- We helped reduce 76% of residual waste at a hospital, in only a matter of months
- We have been able to help a large e-commerce player to valorize their styrofoam, motivating their team to really separate and make the most out of the materials
- Significant cost and CO2 reduction for the largest enterprises of the Benelux
What’s the ultimate vision for you at Seenons?
A world without waste; a circular economy where products and materials get reduced, reused and recycled. We see a world without waste as a closed loop system focused on a circular economy. Nothing gets burned, put to landfill or worse, ends up in the ocean. The system focuses on sustainability and is based on collaboration, transparency and supported by legislation, which ensure that it also makes economical sense.