In April, Positive Earth founder Schalk Kearney connected with Joel Tasche, co-founder of Cleanhub, to learn more about the company’s mission to eradicate plastic pollution. In a nutshell, Cleanhub works directly with companies around the world that want to take accountability for their non-recyclable plastic waste. Once Cleanhub has calculated a company’s plastic emissions, Cleanhub is then committed to recovering the equivalent amount of plastic from the environment in high-impact areas where there is no waste management infrastructure in place.
Watch our interview with Cleanhub: Be Different, Episode 1
Read the blog: A Conversation with Joel Tasche
Over the past three months, Cleanhub has expanded their reach exponentially. With a growing team, exciting new partnerships, epic environmental impacts, and a phenomenal seed investment of almost €4 million, this sustainable startup is changing the world. We couldn’t be more excited!
In light of #PlasticFreeJuly, we thought it apt to celebrate the incredible social and environmental achievements made by Cleanhub in such a short time. We caught up with Joel Tasche and his team to find out more.
Cleanhub has been making incredible strides in environmental and social impact around the world, with lots of new partnerships on board. Can you share some of your new partnerships with us and what this means to you?
Thank you! Yes, we are really excited to be working with new brands like WÜRTH, Vitamasques, Gourmesso, Waterbomb, Jack’s Beautyline as well as Frank Body. Together, we will recover almost 40 tonnes of plastic in Indonesia and India and prevent it from entering our oceans. And we are so happy about our new collection partner Plastic Fischer. They intercept plastic waste from the rivers in the Varanasi region with their highly efficient technologies. The partnerships with brands and collection partners mean the world to us because the more brands we work with, the more plastic gets collected and recovered and avoids ending up in our oceans. And secondly, they have a great social impact. Through partnerships, we can create sustainable jobs with clean, safe working conditions for the communities that live alongside our waste management chain in the countries we operate in.
Recently, together with your brand partners, you supported over 60 workers at Green Worms (your collection partner in Kerala, India) to receive financial support during lockdown while they could not work. The same collection partner recently recovered over 150 tonnes of plastic. This is fantastic! What kind of ripple effect do you think this will have in Kerala and other collection countries you work with, in encouraging more people to get on board?
I think the most important thing is that people can see that one can make a difference if one acts and if one becomes part of the solution. Things are verifiable, and the plastic credit system that we offer to our partner brands to become plastic neutral, or just plastic positive, has a traceable impact on our environment.
When we first introduced our idea of giving non-valuable plastic a value in order for it to become too valuable to waste, people in the waste management sector thought we were mad. Now they see that it is working, they are eager to collect all plastic types, and even focus on non-valuable ones like multi-layer plastic, because they know they will get money for it – all thanks to the brands that partner with us.
Cleanhub itself is growing and growing, with more employees coming on board. Can you introduce some of the new members of your team?
Sure, I’d love to – we also do an introduction of our new team members every week on LinkedIn by the way, so you can stay updated and stay tuned for more. I am especially excited to be working with Rizal Ratulangi and Lakshmi Menon, who take care of our Operations in Indonesia and India. They make sure everything runs smoothly with our collection partners and our digital platform. I am just so grateful to have them on board as they have already had such a huge impact on our work and we can learn so much from them.
A huge congrats on securing a seed investment of almost €4 million recently. This is great inspiration for sustainable startups around the world and hugely encouraging for founders and investors alike. Can you tell us a bit about how this is going to directly impact Cleanhub’s impact around the world to take it to the next level?
Thank you. We are very grateful to have these investors on this mission with us. Since our initial research in 2018, our goal has been to find a solution to marine plastic pollution that is both scalable and impactful. To now have this vision supported by impact and tech investors is an important milestone.
Together, we look forward to taking our positive impact to the next level as we plan to use the fresh capital to further establish our digital solution for businesses and expand its tracking technology for larger collection volumes. And larger collection volumes means less plastic in our oceans.
Lastly, it is “Plastic Free July” – what words of advice do you have for readers who want to make a change in their lifestyle towards less plastic waste (this month, and for all the months to follow!)?
There are plenty of small things that everybody can do daily, for me, the most practical and hence easiest things are:
- Take a reusable coffee cup or bottle with you when you are out and about.
- Say no to plastic cutlery or tableware.
- Say no to straws.
- Say no to plastic bags.
Simply pay attention to what you buy – there are some brands that care about their packaging and try to make a difference. Why not buy your shampoo or detergent from them next time?
Since July 3rd, certain single-use plastic products are no longer allowed to be produced in the EU, which is great as it is yet another step in the right direction, which brings us closer to the big solution. Hopefully, a lot of countries will follow suit in the future. The German government developed special labels warning of environmental damage caused by plastic for some other plastic types that can’t be banned just as yet. So next time in the supermarket – take a closer look at your product packaging and learn something new.
Want to know more about what Cleanhub does?
Every year roughly 11 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans – 80% of all that plastic can’t be recycled today. In the countries from where the majority of plastic enters the oceans there is no real formal waste collection. Informal waste collectors look for the plastic that they can sell to recyclers. But if it can’t be recycled, no recycler will want that plastic and the informal collectors won’t be able to sell it. That’s why it is left behind and that’s why that plastic makes up this big percentage of all plastic entering the oceans.
Cleanhub provides incentives to collect all plastic and finds the appropriate treatment method. For clean oceans.