A Solution for Complex Plastics

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Arqlite creates smart gravel from hard to recycle plastics. (Image: Arqlite)

This week Sebastian Sajoux, the CEO of Arqlite, talks about how Arqlite is fitting in to help with plastic recycling and re-use.

How/why did you start Arqlite?

In 2012 I started to learn about B-Corps and creating impact through impact. I decided to travel to Europe to see what I could find out there.

When I got to Europe, I saw solar and recycling bins everywhere. I was amazed by the concept of the sustainability, especially because Argentina was almost 20 years behind. I realized that there could be a lot of positive impact that we could create on the environment. As a result, I started studying environmental consulting in Spain and realized the big issues that were happening, especially with plastics.

When I got back to Argentina, I started offering my consulting services for big companies, including Coca Cola and Unilever. This was my starting point, and the more I learned and consulted in the space, the more I realized that I needed to provide a solution.

I started Arqlite in 2015, and went through Fledge, a startup accelerator in Seattle. The question I started with was: how can we treat unrecyclable plastics and turn them into a product that can be massively used?

Can you describe what your company does, the impact, and how it differs from other competitors in the space?

We are diverting laminated plastics from landfill, the environment, and incineration. Laminated plastics are composed of multiple types of plastics, making them non-recyclable, as you can only recycle plastics of the same-type together. For every ton of plastic we get, we produce one ton of product that then can be sold. For end users, each bag of 100% recycled Arqlite Smart Gravel reduces plastic pollution in our oceans, lakes, and landfills.

Arqlite is a recycling technology company developing high-efficiency materials made 100% from plastic waste. Our recycling system can process non-recyclable plastics, providing an eco-friendly solution at a competitive price to landfill fees. We take the best plastic polymers to create desirable properties, like being light, durable, elastic and inert, and then we turn that into a product. Our primary product is Arqlite Smart Gravel; a light artificial stone aggregate used in construction and landscaping, 10 times better for insulation, and 3 times lighter than mineral aggregates. If you have to transport thousands of cubic yards of gravel, and we can make it three times lighter, then you will be able to load three times a truck and cut the costs by a third.

One application of our product is in manufacturing concrete. Industry can use our gravel as an aggregate for making lighter concrete. Creating lighter concrete means that you need less steel to hold up a lighter structure. Companies can save on costs, buildings with our technology contribute towards LEED and have better insulation, all while helping the environment.

We started in Argentina, recently launched in the US, and now we are working on our first license in Europe. We want to scale the technology globally by selling licenses so we can multiply the impact.

How are you thinking about the market and policy?

We are constantly seeing and hearing about new things coming up. For example, in Europe there is a new bill that for every remodel of a house must include a sustainable or recyclable material. This is big because now construction companies will be looking for options. We are aiming to be a top choice, as we are price competitive and our product has additional benefits.

Companies are required not only by government, but also by consumers and users to become more sustainable. So leading companies are building more sustainable and more efficient.

What are the current trends in the sector? What does the future look like?

I’m more and more confident that the problem of plastics will be solved at some point because there are so many people working on the problem from many different angles and solutions. We need many solutions to grow and create impact. If we can get big companies and government to support these ideas, that will greatly help solve the plastics problem.

This newsletter went out first to readers of The Impact, an Op-Ed email newsletter focused on cleantech that is written by analysts, founders and executives in the industry. Check it out and subscribe here.

Impact Investment Analyst at One World | Startup Weekend Facilitator | Climate Tech Enthusiast

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