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Meet the Member: Ron Gonen, CEO, Closed Loop Partners
Member news | September 09, 2019
In our latest Meet the Member feature, we spoke with Ron Gonen, CEO at Closed Loop Partners.
Closed Loop Partners is an investment and advisory services platform that focuses on sustainable consumer goods, recycling and the development of the circular economy. Investors include many of the world's largest consumer goods companies and family offices interested in investments that provide strong financial returns and tangible social impact.
Keep reading to learn more about Closed Loop Partners and Ron’s precious insights on the circular economy.
FACC: Closed Loop Partners invests in the circular economy, working with actors at every stage of the supply chain to reduce the impact of production, consumption and then post-consumer waste. Why are you passionate about addressing the issue of sustainability from a coordinated, holistic approach?
RG: The circular economy requires systems level change; in order to achieve this, it’s critical that we take a holistic approach, appreciating the interconnectedness of the value chain. For example, we cannot tackle the large volume of post-consumer waste if we’re not going to simultaneously evaluate the design and production of the products contributing to this - what materials are going into a given product in the first place? Are they sustainably sourced? Have designers thought about possible end markets for the materials after their initial use? These are important questions and I’m passionate about connecting the dots so that designers can start thinking about what a second life for their products might look like.
FACC: In addition to funding young, environmentally conscious companies such as the T-shirt subscription services For Days, among many others, Closed Loop Partners has also pioneered the NextGen Consortium. A multi-year partnership of food-service industry leaders founded by Starbucks and McDonald’s, the NextGen Consortium addresses single-use food packaging waste globally. NextGen Cup is the first Consortium initiative and aims to advance recoverable solutions for the fiber, hot and cold, to-go cup system. Why is innovating via established channels, and including the “big players” in the discussion, an essential part of the sustainability puzzle? Do you believe that progress comes from within, or that external disruptors are necessary change agents? (Editor’s note, additional supporting partners of the Consortium include The Coca-Cola Company, Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell), Nestlé & Wendys)
RG: At Closed Loop Partners, we feel strongly that big players must be included in discussions if we want to truly accelerate the transition to a circular economy; without their resources, insight, commitment and scale, viable solutions could take decades to reach mass markets and change needs to happen faster than that. The NextGen Consortium demonstrates how collaboration among the big players can send a unified signal to the market and incentivize change. The Cup Challenge encouraged nearly 500 innovators from across the globe to submit ideas to redesign the to-go cup and the Challenge grabbed the attention of the mainstream media. Together, we’re now working with Consortium partners to scale winning solutions to realize a waste-free future for the cup!
I think that progress can come from both internal and external sources; the more innovation we see, the better. We need to foster a culture of innovation more broadly and create thriving entrepreneurial communities so that innovators are able to learn from one another, seizing any potential opportunities for partnerships to advance circularity.
FACC: Do you have one piece of advice for companies seeking to “start small” and begin implementing incremental change into their supply chain?
RG: I would say you have to start somewhere, and the time is now. More and more brands are recognizing the urgency of the subject and making ambitious sustainability commitments, acknowledging the world’s finite resources and increasingly volatile supply chains. The circular economy is a logical, business orientated solution that keeps materials in the loop, reducing costs, creating jobs and protecting the environment.
FACC: What knowledge or specific expertise are you most looking forward to sharing with the French-American Community?
RG: As an investor in the circular economy, I’m looking forward to sharing Closed Loop Partners' insights and proof points on the business case for sustainability. From emerging chemical recycling technologies that transform waste plastics into new plastics to alternative materials that supersede the need for plastic altogether, like algae-based alternatives, there are a lot of exciting, investable solutions. As we continue to invest across the value chain and in sectors including apparel, packaging, electronics, and food, I’m excited to identify opportunities for collaboration and highlight emerging technologies for FACC's partners across the globe.
Interested in connecting with Ron? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message.