In a world heavily impacted by humans and industry, circular cities and economies provide us with a launchpad to achieve our vision of a sustainable future.
Cities are engines of economic growth in Asia, with many contributing as much as 80% towards the country’s GDP. However, they do create ecological challenges as cities also consume 75% of the world’s resources and produce over 50% of the global waste. South, South East, and North East Asia account for over 50% of food wastage, while 90% of the plastic dumped annually into the oceans originates from five Asian countries alone.
Most Asian countries rank high in having the worst air quality, and it is estimated by 2025 that the ASEAN region will be responsible for 2.5 million tons of solid waste daily.
There is, however, good news—it’s not all doom and gloom! Dense populations, an ingrained culture of sharing, repairing, recycling, robust informal systems and networks regarding waste management, and the highly heterogeneous socio-economic groups present in most Asian cities make them well geared towards circular innovation.
Who Can Help Drive the Change?
The process of innovation and implementation to bring about circular systems is often an expensive one. Many existing systems need to be revamped or even scrapped, while the technology required can be costly.
Startups looking to venture into the circular innovation space often lack the necessary capital and funding. They often find investors are less willing to fund innovative technology in these non-conventional areas of business.
This is where innovation firms such as RENERGii Asia come in. RENERGii’s focus is on making Asian cities TRIPLE ZERO (3Z): Zero waste, zero pollution and (net) zero-carbon urban spaces by utilising circular economic principles.
RENERGii, which is also Asia’s first venture studio and innovation firm, is filling the gap in this area of circular innovation investment by helping startups get the necessary funding to develop their business ideas. RENERGii’s expertise and work in this area of circular economy innovation, cleantech and sustainability, in turn, also help cities to become more circular.
At their core, they believe that the circular economy approach provides a valuable framework to help retain the vibrancy of urban spaces without the accompanying ecological issues that seem inevitable in the current urban paradigm. Thus bringing a high quality of life to its residents.
RENERGii realises that startups need unfair advantages from the get-go for startups to win, and that's what they aim to arm startups with.
Predominantly working with startups who have the same vision to reimagine cities and urban spaces as circular, RENERGii aims to combine purpose with profit and help equip the startups with a 3-Dimensional (3D) advantage:
(a) Innovation framework
(b) Innovation and investment experience
(c) Synergies with existing portfolio and networks.
The venture studio largely focuses on urban food systems. They’re helping build the next-generation startups to make Asian food systems more resilient and sustainable by employing circular economic principles.
FeedWerkz - From Bugs to Food
FeedWerkz is one such company aiming to redirect the path of business towards sustainability. With the help and guidance of RENERGii, they are changing the game in feed production, which currently relies on unsustainable production methods. They’ve discovered cheaper, more sustainable ways of producing blended protein feed alternatives for agriculture and aquaculture.
As a solution to the problem of unsustainable feed production, FeedWerkz has tapped into the insect world as a source of high-quality protein to combat the impending global protein shortage emergency. They sell this feed to the agriculture and aquaculture industries as a more sustainable alternative to traditional animal feed and help cater to the ever-growing demand for food and enhance food security.
FeedWerkz has its primary operations in Indonesia. They employ circular systems in their business model, which help reduce waste and resource use while providing an alternative, sustainable feed for agriculture and aquaculture.
They collect biowaste, which includes food scraps and other organic waste, then utilise the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) as a means of waste management. These insects consume and decompose vast amounts of organic waste, thereby helping reduce the amount of organic waste left to rot in landfills.
The BSF larvae are processed or used fresh as a protein-rich material for animal feed. It’s a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to traditional animal feed, providing a more feasible option to meet the demands of the growing human population.
Feedwerkz has found an innovative way to convert this waste into an alternative protein source while harnessing the remaining nutrient content in organic waste.
The benefits of using the BSF, which are neither pests nor vectors, are:
Breeding is easy
There is minimal resource consumption
The process produces better nutritional properties
The whole system produces less waste, utilises fewer resources, and is more cost-effective than traditional animal feed methods, creating circular loops and a better nutritional product.
The company further enhances its products with high-quality BSFL (Black Soldier Fly Larvae) extracts that they process. This process reduces any further waste.
Another example of circularity from FeedWerkz is that they upcycle the exoskeletons of the insects. They then use these to make animal feed and other products. The result? Zero waste and complete circularity
This circular system is a perfect example of what we need in today’s economy to shift away from the industrial linear model. The systems feed into each other, thereby reducing waste and the number of new materials used while increasing sustainability overall. Ventures like FeedWerks show us that transitioning to circular models is not only possible but also profitable.
So What Can You Do to Join the Bandwagon And Help Create a More Circular City?
RENERGii has a deep understanding of the urban circular economy. With their unique innovation framework and entrepreneurial spirit, they are well poised to help you transition your venture while helping transition Asian urban spaces into livable, breathable circular cities.
Do you feel like this is something that you would be interested in, either from the point of view of a startup or trying to readjust your existing systems to be more circular?
Get in touch with RENERGii, Circular Cities Asia’s founding sponsor, to see how they can help set you on the path to creating a more circular venture, and ultimately a more circular city.