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What value do start-ups add?
May 31, 2020
| Mariana Arias Sanz

With a flurry of new technologies coming to market to mitigate waste and optimize resources understanding what value these start-ups can add is imperative.

In such context, CZW has found that Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) those with a particularly high importance to the economy and, at the same time, with a high risk of supply disruptions are at the heart of corporate profitability as we adapt to the new economy. First and foremost, improving the circular use of CRMs is a key strategy in improving the security of supply and not surprisingly is an objective of various policies being put into place in Europe. The sharing of best practices and data for the recovery of critical raw materials from mining waste, agriculture and manufacturing companies is driving the transformation globally.

At CZW we recognize that start-ups are essential to “reinvigorate corporate business” and “emerge stronger” POST COVID-19.

Examples of existing practices for the recovery of critical, precious, and other materials from extractive waste and landfills, highlighting technological innovations and contributions to a more comprehensive knowledge-based on raw materials. CZW is highlighting a few companies that we feel are making a difference.

Organisations are becoming increasingly concerned with responsible sourcing and sustainability and optimizing their raw materials efficiency.

Veera Johnson – Co Founder, Circulor


Circulor partnered with SGS has worked with Volvo Cars and Daimler to track and trace the provenance of cobalt and mica through their supply chains during the production of electric vehicle batteries . The Circulor system provides materials with a unique digital identity and then tracks the flow of this material, even as it changes state through processing and manufacture to enable the use and re-use raw materials are optimized. Circulor has the first auto manufacturing cobalt tracking system. According to Veera Johnson, Co Founder, organisations are becoming increasingly concerned with responsible sourcing and sustainability and optimizing their raw materials efficiency.


Queen of Raw works with everyone from independent designers to fast-fashion brands and luxury maisons helping to “map, measure and trace” their deadstock textiles — resulting in up to 15 percent off their bottom line in cost savings. The CEO Stephanie Benedetto says brands can recoup up to 15 per cent of their bottom line by letting Queen of Raw sell their unused fabric stocks. In the last year, the company has grown 110 per cent year-on-year and has over 175,000 users that include fast fashion brands and luxury houses. But according to Stephanie Benedetto their CEO and Co-Founder and her team’s calculations, $120 billion worth of fabric ends up in the landfill every year, meaning there’s still much room left to grow.

Construction and Agriculture

Eco Avant-Garde Srl , an Italian company, manufactures and promotes a gypsum-based waste treatment and recycling plant with low environmental impact and reduced energy consumption, called ECO GYPSUM 64.

It is an innovative technological process that by combining a mechanical crushing action with a subsequent double dry compression, separates the gypsum and paper from the plasterboard coming from demolitions, renovations and processing scraps, fully recovering both materials.

The recovered gypsum powder is of high quality, 97,6% pure, practically free of paper and reusable in new production cycles (production of new plasterboard panels, in the production of cements, as fertilizer in agriculture and farming.


The cannabis industry due to regulations is required to place product in containers that require child proof openings.  These are typically some type of plastic packaging.  3 Bros Grow sources all packaging from recycled ocean based plastics, hemp plastics and are made with biodegradable inks and other biodegradable products.  They also have a jar recycling program and compassion program at their dispensary.

One of the companies they are partnering with is

Golden Seed has a partner with a vermiculture program at the site where they are going to be developing a composting program as well.  Golden Seed are going to be sending all of their cannabis waste (Steams, Leaves, Soil, Etc) to this composting program.  Also they are going to be taking 30 tons of culls from a nearby food processor as a test to improve their compost program and support waste diversion from the commercial ag industry.  Their goal with the site is to get a zero waste certification for the cannabis waste stream related to soil and plant biomass.

The overall goal is to show it is possible to eliminate all biomass and soil waste from the cannabis industry while also creating healthy soil.  They believe they can show it is possible locally in their own community to create similar programs in the cannabis / hemp industry that could then be applied to other food production market segments.

Mariana Arias Sanz
Mariana Arias Sanz
Mariana is a graduate from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in Sustainability and a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning. She is a planner by profession, having worked in both private and public sectors. Her international background has contributed to her multicultural outlook on sustainability matters, including solid waste management, sustainable urban redevelopment, densification of cities, smart cities, and encouraging active transportation through planning. Her passion for sustainability and the environment began at an early age, motivating her to pursue the creation of a holistic relationship between people and where they live.