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5 Minutes With… Willemijn Peeters at Searious Business.

“We have just finished development of a 100% fully-recyclable drink pouch.”

Public outcry over plastic pollution is one of the reasons driving brands to work towards a circular economy. Brands are not the only ones showing concern about this issue. Investors, legislators and consumers are scrutinising waste and packaging policies like never before.

Searious Business provides mind-shifting solutions for major brands to create circular use of plastic. The company helps to accelerate innovation projects in collaboration with companies to use and scale up business solutions and book results to reduce plastic waste.

Here, Bio Market Insights’ Liz Gyekye, catches up with Searious Business CEO Willemijn Peeters.

Liz Gyekye (LG): What’s the story behind Searious Business?

Willemijn Peeters (WP): Every minute 20,000 kilos of plastic enter into our ocean. That’s more than one rubbish track of plastic per minute. Searious Business (@SeariousBiz) is committed to bring this amount back to zero.

In March 2016, I founded Searious Business to prevent ‘plastic soups’ at source. Coming from business and having worked in sustainability for years, I firmly believe that companies are “true catalysts of change”. I have actually seen this change happen.

Our company offers refreshing, disruptive innovation projects to global companies in high volume markets that use plastics. We rethink, redesign and rebrand for and alongside our customers – for the benefit of everyone, including our planet. Our unique combination of drive, vision and a total value-chain approach help our customers become ‘leaders of change’ in their sectors.

LG: What were you doing before this career?

WP: I come from business and used to be a business controller.  After working as a business controller, I worked in the corporate sustainability field for more than 14 years. I worked on cross-sector (business – non-profit) initiatives and increased corporate sustainability through operational and organisational innovation, while growing profits. My vast business background has led me to my specialty. I feel that I have been able to inspire people and organisations by developing initiatives that they want to be part of.

LG: What’s been the biggest challenge in growing the company?

WP: Our customers are typically the top players in food packaging, furniture and consumer electronics. We help them to implement changes, adjust strategies, and run innovation projects. On average, our customers achieve more than 5% higher margins, making this an effort that consumer and stockholders support. However, our biggest challenge has been getting the right decision maker involved at the right time, and getting a company to walk the walk and talk the talk. It has also been a challenge to get these companies to invest in the change that is needed.

LG: What’s coming up next for your company?

WP: Solutions such as fully-recyclable packaging, which enable systematic change to ensure effective recycling into the same application, and/or alternatives to virgin plastics.

Food packaging is the major source of plastic pollution. Searious Business focuses specifically on the “recycle disasters” of food packaging – the multi-laminate packaging. In this way, we help major brands move away from the use of virgin plastics. We have just finished development of a 100% fully-recyclable drink pouch. This is a major breakthrough and will be made market-ready soon.

LG: What advice would you give to someone else looking to launch their own company/product in this space?

WP: Focus on your potential customers, the real reasons why your product or service would be attractive to them, show you can add value and do not give up.

LG: What’s your favourite sustainable/bio-based product? 

WP: Searious Business helped a big furniture company Dutch Design (based in Gispen) to become a frontrunner in circular economy. In just four months, we developed an original sofa design that was assembled and 3D-printed from more than 95% recycled plastics.

After getting it production-ready, we helped the company create their marketing strategy and tell their story. Executing our plans and that product, Gispen won the biggest contract ever for office furniture: They can now supply €10,000,000 of furniture per year, for the coming ten years.

This truly is a Searious Business success story, for all players involved: The manufacturer, the local employees, the retailers, the consumers – and the planet! We even won the Dutch Design Award 2019 with this sofa last week! you were interested in this circular economy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Bioplastics to ‘play key role’ in implementation of circular economy and EU environmental directives.

Read: PrimaLoft claims polyester circular economy breakthrough.

Read: Coca-Cola to use bottles made from 100% recycled plastic for three of its brands.

Read: Japan pledges to promote plant-based bioplastics to tackle marine waste.

Take part: Bio Market Insights reader survey 2019.

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