Happy Global Recycling Day!
Since 2018, Global Recycling Day has aimed to shift the global perception of recycling as something beneficial, to something absolutely essential to the longevity of our planet. Aiming to lobby governmental organisations around the world, educate on the importance of recycling and amplify the positive impact we can all have through better recycling practices, Global Recycling Day this year is celebrating #RecyclingHeroes.
Introducing Lasso Loop
Lasso Loop is a company that has created a paradigm-shifting at-home recycling facility, the Lasso. Designed to fit neatly into your kitchen, like a dishwasher but with hints of Wes Anderson, the Lasso essentially closes the recycling loop by cleaning and processing household waste so they can be made into new products. Closed loop recycling at its finest - pretty awesome if you ask us! We got chatting to Kieran, head of Operations at Lasso Loop and Tesla alumni, to get the inside scoop on how the company started, and why it’s such an important step in the necessary move towards engaging everyone in a totally closed loop economy.
The Lasso feels like a total game changer in the world of recycling - when did Lasso Loop identify a problem with the system?
The concept of Lasso started almost 27 years ago!! Our founder and CEO, Aldous Hicks was a mechanical engineer and then a programmer of business software. About 27 years ago he was struggling with a “data corruption” software problem at the office. Later that night when putting out his garbage and recycling bins, staring him in the face was a used materials corruption problem, which he has spent 27 years channelling into what is now Lasso Loop. I joined the team directly from Tesla, having spent his teenage years spearheading climate-positive projects such as an up-cycled washing machine into ergonomic and functional shoe storage.
What has shocked you most about the industry? Is it what is driving you to make a change?
What has shocked me most about the recycling industry on a whole is how resistant to change they are….[many] recycling and recyclable materials companies are mostly very quick to dismiss the concept of Lasso because it doesn't fit in with the established recycling system. Innovation in any established industry has always been downplayed by those "established" in the field, right before the newcomer revolutionises the industry. If history has taught us anything, it's that those who dare to challenge the socially defined normality in a positive, ambitious and smart way can create real industry defining world change.
I've been amazed how a lot of really clever and experienced people can't see that or as a result are unwilling to help. It's always reminded me of Henry Ford's famous saying "If I would have asked somebody what they wanted, they would have told me a faster horse and not a car". This level of innovation one way or another is coming to recycling and waste management. I'm so proud that Lasso are on the cutting edge of that change.
What is your ambition? Is it realistic to see a Lasso in every home?
Absolutely, Lasso's ambition is to have an appliance in every home on the planet as fast as humanly possible - the state of the current recycling system and world demands it. We also really want to help accelerate the adoption of the circular economy in the industrial sector, like with manufacturing, hospitals and offices. We really see no reason why Lasso can't be in every building that produces some form of used material that can be recycled.
Closing the loop is one of our key pillars, and contributing to a closed loop economy is something we are passionate about - how does your closed loop system work?
The core principle that the Lasso appliance operates on is purity of used materials. When you place a recyclable used material into Lasso, it is identified, cleaned, processed and stored all whilst being kept separated from any other subset of material (HDPE plastic kept with HDPE plastic but not with PET plastic for example). When Lasso collects this material, it is again kept completely separate until delivered right back to a manufacturer to make it into exactly what it once was. Creating a closed-loop system of used material.
While we can't have a Lasso in every home just yet, do you have any tips on how we can make recycling more effective in our own homes?
At Lasso, like mentioned, we strongly believe in purity being the key component to effectively recycle. When the current recycling systems around the world (even if you take the time to separate and clean your materials) mix them up and compound them together as soon as they are collected, it is impossible for you to affect this.
However, there are some really cool Deposit Return Schemes becoming available in various areas across the world. By returning your used materials to these reverse vending machines, you not only collect a very small deposit back, but give the existing recycling companies the best chance to directly recycle this material, as it maintains purity (a Deposit Return Scheme or Reverse Vending Machine is basically the option to drop your materials off at a specialised collection point). Leverage these schemes as much as possible and avoid mixing your used materials. This is the simple message to follow when recycling from home.
Are there any other exciting things in the pipeline, any other areas you want to expand into/problems you want to solve?
In terms of Lasso, we really want to expand into the commercial spaces to not only help households achieve 100% closed-loop recycling but also companies on larger scales to accelerate the worldwide adoption of the circular economy as quickly as possible. For myself, I'm a huge fan of the blockchain operating approach, which brings maximum visibility to any system which I really believe is going to redefine entire industries, as we are already seeing with banking and cryptocurrency. This approach could solve some of the world's sustainability issues, which may materialize into future projects once Lasso is well on its way to having an appliance in every household.
Finally - what are your sustainability essentials? We love supporting others who are making waves in our world, so let us know your sustainable lifestyle hacks...
As consumers, we all have the ultimate defining power to support initiatives and companies that are promoting real sustainable change. For me, this means declining when offered things like plastic bags and styrofoam packaging at supermarkets and whilst shopping. When I have to buy clothing, I always look to support really cool companies like Allbirds or Positive Outlook. On the topic of clothes, I also try not to wash t-shirts as frequently as suggested - which if you ask my mum, is me being too lazy and prioritising work to doing my laundry, but I call it sustainability.
For more information on the circular economy and how it works, head to WRAP UK, or the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who have some great informational content.