CEF Spotlight

A Look Inside the Waste-Free World

Closed Loop Partners CEO Ron Gonen offers a glimpse into his new book, The Waste-Free World, in the following written interview with CEF Deputy Director Michael Rama.

Michael Rama: What led you to write The Waste-Free World?

Ron Gonen: I’ve written a number of opinion pieces for various news outlets and had always considered writing a book. Then, in 2018, Alec Baldwin invited me to be a guest on his Podcast, “Here’s The Thing”, to discuss issues and opportunities related to waste and recycling. A successful book agent, Emma Parry, heard the podcast, called me afterwards and suggested we work together on a book. So it was something that I had always been interested in doing, but required a random invitation from a celebrity podcast and the good fortune that a successful book agent was listening 🙂

As the Co-Founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners, what are some of the key lessons or experiences you’ve had that illustrate the “immense business opportunity” of circularity that you portray in the book?

RG: First, it would be the interest that the world’s largest retailers, consumer goods companies, and technology companies have shown in being investors in our funds. Second, it would be the economic benefits generated for our investors that include corporate investors, financial institutions, family offices and foundations.

Chapter 7 is titled “I’ve Got One Word for You, Benjamin.” What’s the word and who is Benjamin?

RG: It refers to a scene from The Graduate where Benjamin, the main character, receives a lecture about the future of plastics.

What are some examples/case studies of corporate partnerships with CLP that are helping to drive the Circular Economy?

RG: Algramo is a portfolio company in our venture fund, Closed Loop Ventures. Algramo was introduced to us by Unilever, one of our investors. A year after we invested, Algramo was named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in Latin America and recently launched service in the U.S. Another example is our NextGen Consortium that we built with McDonalds, Starbucks and others in the coffee industry to develop coffee cups that are recyclable, compostable or reusable.

If you could give three tips to corporate executives interested in adopting more circular business models, what would they be?

RG: (1) At the heart of circularity is transparency. Transparency in supply chains and data. A focus on transparency will eliminate a significant amount of waste and cost. (2) Circularity enables your business to be more self-reliant and maintain better control over supply chains (3) Circularity enables a long-term relationship with consumers by maintaining a relationship with them throughout the lifecycle of their product experience.

Purchase The Waste-Free World here.

Ron is the Founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners, a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project finance and an innovation center focused on building the circular economy.  Prior to Closed Loop Partners, Ron was the Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation in New York City in the Bloomberg Administration, and the Co-Founder and CEO of RecycleBank. Ron received an MBA from Columbia Business School, and has been an Adjunct Professor at his alma mater since 2010.

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