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Waste-To-Value Market Overview

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Executive Summary

“Investing in Waste-to-Value” examines new approaches to managing the increasing amount of waste produced globally. Over 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) are produced annually, which is projected to increase to 3.75 billion tons by 2050. The amount of waste humanity produces is now growing faster than all other environmental pollutants including greenhouse gases (GHGs). Additionally, 11% of global methane emissions can be attributed to municipal solid waste, and methane’s near-term impact on global warming is more severe than CO2.

Plastics are the most problematic form of MSW, with nearly 330 million tons generated annually. Plastic waste has long been implicated for its role in killing marine life and suffocating our oceans, which play a crucial role in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. At the local and regional levels, inadequate waste collection, improper disposal, and inappropriate siting of facilities have devastating impacts on environmental and public health.

Waste-to-Value processes and investment outlooks go hand in hand with a circular economy, aiming to more productively use and reuse component parts. To encourage and focus investment into this growing market, Boundless conducted interviews with a range of industry and investment experts and gathered insights from a variety of stakeholders throughout the value chain. Experts represented investment firms, private equity firms, debt finance firms, trade associations, and private companies. The private companies included early-stage ventures, mature companies, and those in intermediary stages of development.

Our research found that regulatory changes and consumer awareness are important factors, but business solutions present the strongest avenue for improving the broader waste management system. Impact-minded investors can play an important role in this process by supporting growth-stage companies and developmental technologies that can address systemic challenges.

As the Waste-to-Value market grows, the financial returns for those same impact investors will grow as well, if they invest in companies and funds integral to that system-wide evolution. Companies that can capture strategic early-stage funding, provide measurable environmental impact, demonstrate economic savings through demonstration projects, and prove their system-wide benefits will be the market leaders.

Please keep an eye out for our next market overview on investing in solutions to Alzheimer’s in early December.