Each year, 20 million tonnes of virgin rubber is used to make new tires, generating a significant amount of carbon emissions
Enter Circular Rubber Technologies (CRT), which rescues rubber from industrial tires headed for landfill and converts it into a high-grade rubber reclaim. The company – founded in BC and set to open its first plant in Alberta – provides tire manufacturers with a high-quality alternative to virgin rubber while emitting significantly lower CO2 emissions and decreasing their manufacturing costs.
The CRT team has already raised one million dollars (CAD) and is collaborating with several Tier 1 tire manufacturers. Now, as the winner of the Angels for Climate Solutions program first intake, earning a $122,000 investment from a cohort of angel investors, CRT has redoubled efforts to achieve a cleaner, greener future.
Keep reading below for our interview with Maartje van der Sande, CEO of Circular Rubber Technologies. After a decade in the oil and gas industry, Maartje turned her expertise in engineering and large, capital-intensive projects towards her passion of making the world a better place. Shocked by the sheer environmental impact caused by spent tires, she started Circular Rubber Technologies to solve the issue of waste rubber.
How was your experience with the Angels for Climate Solutions program?
Angels for Climate Solutions was a great program. As an innovator, you were taken by the hand and walked through the different steps to set you up for success. It was very valuable.
What did you learn through the Angels for Climate Solutions program that you didn’t already know?
We learned how to set up proper due diligence. We explored questions such as, What’s important to investors? How do they look at certain aspects of the business? How do they perceive risk?
Our previous fundraising was more organic. We ran into people who loved our story, and things developed from there. However, there was less of a structured process. The insights we gained from the program are helping us make our case to institutional investors, who are expecting that structure.
I also found it interesting to hear different perspectives within our cohort. During the program, you discuss your pitch deck with 10 different people, and you get 10 different opinions. It was useful to hear feedback from other innovators, and to explore the elements they disagreed on. It shows you there isn’t one right answer.
What’s next for Circular Rubber Technologies, now that you have secured the Angels for Climate Solutions prize?
In terms of short-term goals, we’ll be producing another 13 tonnes of product in the next three weeks.
Longer term, we are on track to have our first plant in Alberta operational by the first half of 2023. Getting that up and running is our major focus, as the plant will serve the entire Western region, including Alberta and BC.
We are also looking into a streamlined, efficient way to serve the other half of the country and the rest of the world. Currently, we’re in discussions to open another plant on the East Coast, to service that market, and exploring operation in the US, South America, Europe and Australia. We would aim to have several locations open within five years.
Backed by angel funding, how will your product amplify efforts to combat climate change?
We know that people are increasingly starting to drive electric or hydrogen vehicles, and that’s a strong step forward – however, these vehicles still need tires. And tires are made out of a lot of rubber, which is a carbon-intense material to grow and harvest – in fact, 70 percent of the annual global rubber production is used for tires.
Up to this point, much of that rubber was destroyed when it reached the end of its lifecycle. Yes, there are recycling processes happening today, but in these cases the material is downgraded so it can never be used in new tires – instead it’s used in playgrounds and residential backyards.
Our company substitutes virgin natural rubber for the traditional rubber used in tires. For every tonne of virgin natural rubber we substitute, we save three tonnes in carbon emissions. With support from the Angels for Climate Solutions investment, we are planning to produce 100,000 tonnes of reclaimed rubber per year, spread out over multiple locations. As you can see, that equates to substantial carbon emissions savings – and for us, that’s only the beginning.
Circular Rubber Technologies
Angels for Climate Solutions 2022 Winner
To learn more about Circular Rubber Technologies, visit www.circularrubber.com.