Who We Are
 

The Circulate Initiative is a non-profit organization committed to solving the ocean plastic pollution challenge by creating more circular, inclusive and investible waste management and recycling systems in emerging markets.

We achieve this by collaborating with key stakeholders across the sector, incubating innovative solutions and generating insights that accelerate investment and scale to prevent plastic waste leakage and advance the circular economy.

Our Story

Solving the ocean plastic pollution challenge

An estimated 140 million tonnes of plastic waste has accumulated in the world’s oceans and rivers. In the absence of needed interventions, plastic waste entering the ocean annually could nearly triple by 2040, reaching 29 million tonnes. Mismanaged plastics is a significant problem, especially in emerging markets where major investment in waste management infrastructure and solutions are needed. 

 

However, research shows that an 80% reduction of ocean plastic leakage is possible by 2040 through the use of existing technologies if we combine upstream and downstream solutions to achieve system change. Early market research by investment firm Circulate Capital also highlighted the need to strengthen the pipeline of investment-ready solutions in waste management and plastic recycling, and improve access to the right tools and knowledge to guide decision-making and investment in emerging markets.

Established in 2019 with the support of Circulate Capital, The Circulate Initiative is working to fill these market gaps through the incubation of investible and inclusive solutions, and the generation of insights that help to end the plastic pollution crisis and advance the circular economy.

 

The Circulate Initiative is a U.S.-registered 501(c)(3) organization.

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Our Approach

We believe that preventing plastic waste leakage into the ocean and creating a more circular economy in South and Southeast Asia requires a focused and systemic response. 

 

Alongside our partners, including mission-aligned investment firm Circulate Capital, we aim to increase the quality and quantity of investable opportunities for all investors while also demonstrating that investments in ocean plastic solutions can deliver financial returns. 


We focus on two main strategies: we incubate solutions and generate insights so that more capital can be invested.

 2021 Annual Report

In 2021, The Circulate Initiative made significant progress on its mission to end ocean plastic pollution and build circular, inclusive economies through key initiatives across our two main pillars of work: Insights and Incubation.

Together with our partners, we were able to bridge stakeholder understanding of the plastic waste problem in South and Southeast Asia and accelerate the support provided to innovators, communities, and cities. Learn more about our strategies and achievements in our 2021 Annual Report.

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Our Team

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Michael Sadowski

Interim Executive Director

 

For 20 years, Michael has worked with companies to solve business challenges, including sustainability.

 

Over this time, Michael has been a trusted advisor to senior executives, managed organizations and teams, driven change from within companies, led research and authored reports, and facilitated multi-stakeholder collaborations.

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Rob Kaplan

Board Member

 

Rob has played a key role in the establishment of The Circulate Initiative and serves as a Board Member.

 

He is the Founder and CEO of Circulate Capital, an investment management firm dedicated to financing companies, projects, and infrastructure in South and Southeast Asia that prevent the flow of plastic waste into the world’s ocean and advance the circular economy.

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Jeep Kline

Board Member

 

Jeep is a Partner of MrPink VC, an impact venture fund targeting South American entrepreneurs. She recently founded SeaSky Lab, a project that bridges knowledge and resources from Silicon Valley to Asia for tech entrepreneurs.

 

An advisor to several incubation programs, she is UC Berkeley Skydeck’s lead ambassador to 48 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and a guest lecturer in the Sustainable and Impact Finance Group at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. 

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Ariel Muller

Board Member

 

Ariel is Managing Director, Asia at Forum for the Future, an international sustainability non-profit with deep expertise in designing and delivering change programmes based on the principles of systems change. Current programs focus on the transition to just and regenerative solutions in food, energy, textiles, and natural climate solutions in South Asia and Southeast Asia. 

Previously, Ariel was the Sustainable Business lead at Helsinki Group in New York, a collaborative innovation firm that helped organisations build their capacity for change and transformation.

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Ellen Martin

Impact and Insights

 

In her role, Ellen is responsible for driving impact and insights for The Circulate Initiative, its flagship program The Incubation Network, and our other strategic partnerships.

 

Ellen ensures TCI and its partners connect with the data and learning they need to inform strategies that prevent plastic leakage and advance an inclusive, circular economy. Ellen also chairs TCI’s Impact Metrics Working Group and serves as Chief Impact Officer at Circulate Capital. 

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Khunapong Khunaraksa

Director of Operations and Strategy

Khunapong leads the development of The Circulate Initiative’s operations and strategies to stop ocean plastic and advance the circular economy in emerging countries. These include creating an enabling ecosystem for innovations to scale faster.

 

Recognized as a Regional Leader in Southeast Asia, Khunapong was the first Community & Advocacy Winner of the 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards. He has advised 30 organizations to build and scale new initiatives across five geographies. 

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Umesh Madhavan

Research Director

 

Umesh is Circulate Initiative’s Research Director. In this role, he plans and executes Circulate Initiative’s research strategy across diverse circularity linked themes and also supports partner organisations on their research and strategy development.

 

He is responsible for scoping and managing research projects and ensuring organisation-wide access to data and insights. He is passionate about leveraging the power of data and insights to produce impactful outcomes.

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Shamina Mohamed

Communications Manager

 

Shamina leads The Circulate Initiative's communications strategy and stakeholder engagement program. She also supports partner organizations, Circulate Capital and SecondMuse, with joint communications and outreach initiatives, including the flagship program The Incubation Network.

Shamina is passionate about environmental and social impact causes, particularly ocean environment protection, climate change action and gender empowerment.

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Juline Lew

Research Analyst

 

As a Research Analyst, Juline scopes and researches on diverse circularity linked themes and supports the team on the management of projects.  

 

Juline enjoys the process of data synthesis and is motivated by how data can be used to improve decision-making and drive action. She has co-authored various reports in the sustainability and communications domains.

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Nurul Aisyah Suwandi

Research Analyst

 

Aisyah is responsible for scoping and executing research projects in The Circulate Initiative’s Insights team, across a wide range of circularity-related themes, alongside research partners and partner organisations.

 

With experience in executing research projects related to solid waste management and material flows on post-consumer plastic packaging, Aisyah is keen on capitalising multi-stakeholder collaboration for a holistic approach in tackling ocean plastic pollution.

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Partner With Us 

The Circulate Initiative brings together a highly collaborative community of innovators, investors, partners and programs to develop solutions and knowledge that reduce plastic pollution and advance inclusive and circular economies. If you would like to be involved, please get in touch.

Our Collaborators

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Jenna Jambeck, PH.D.

GAA Distinguished Professor

in Environmental Engineering

University of Georgia

College of Engineering

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William McDonough

Chief Executive

McDonough Innovation

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Our Supporters

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Lucy Ana Walton
via the Denver Foundation

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