November 16
Karsten Hirsch, Plastic Fischer. Photo: Jan Turek, Circular Valley
Circular economy summit is also a summit for start-ups
At the Circular Valley Forum on November 16, 14 young companies from around the world will present ideas that prevent emissions on a large scale. The quality of the Circular Valley start-ups' business models will be demonstrated at the Forum by one guest in particular, whom the initiative supported two years ago and who has now reached a milestone.
The German start-up Plastic Fischer collected its 1,000th tonne of plastic waste from rivers in India and Indonesia at the beginning of November. The Cologne-based company develops floating fences that prevent plastic waste from entering the sea and turning into microplastics. This technology can be easily set up and used by local employees. For its technology, Plastic Fischer is therefore also among the finalists in the category "Next Economy Award" of the German Sustainability Award (Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis). The award will be presented on November 24.

Exactly one week before this ceremony, Plastic Fischer founder Karsten Hirsch will attend the Circular Valley Forum in the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal to share the 1000-tonne message. The Circular Valley initiative has supported the startup in its funding program and is now welcoming it to the Circular Economy Summit on November 16. On this day, more than a thousand decision-makers from politics, industry and science will come together. Guests include North-Rhine Westphalian Minister President Hendrik Wüst, Nanette Braun from the United Nations, numerous board members from large and medium-sized companies and important scientific institutions.

The guests at the Circular Valley Forum will discuss the extent to which the transformation to a circular economy has already been successful, where current challenges lie and what new solutions will have to be found. Circular Valley start-ups play an important role here – not only the more than 70 companies that have already received support over the past two years, but also the 14 international companies that are taking part in the current batch of the Accelerator program. The current start-ups will be given a big stage at the DemoDay during the Forum to present their business models.

Karsten Hirsch from Plastic Fischer can confirm just how important DemoDay is for the start-ups. When he presented his business model there around two years ago, he met Ralf Putsch, Managing Director of the international pliers manufacturer Knipex. Putsch was so convinced by the idea that he financed the fishing of 19 tons of plastic waste - and has since expanded his involvement with Plastic Fischer several times.

Connecting young and established companies is one of the aims of the Circular Valley initiative, which was founded in 2021. DemoDay on November 16 will continue this tradition. This DemoDay includes the following ideas:

  • Recyclable blades for wind turbines
  • Modules made from recycled glass for sustainable construction
  • Sensors and artificial intelligence to save water in agriculture
  • Solar lamps from electronic waste designed for regions with frequent power cuts

Plastic Fischer shows how far such ideas can grow. Founded in 2019, the start-up now employs around 90 people in India and Indonesia who fish plastic waste out of rivers and process it for recycling. One of them told the founders a special story: Now that he and his son finally have a secure job, he has bought the first garbage can of his life.
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Clara Hennings
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