investment viewpoints

Plastic wrap: curbing microplastics and promoting reuse models

Plastic wrap: curbing microplastics and promoting reuse models
Christopher Tritten - Head of Private Equity

Christopher Tritten

Head of Private Equity
Victoire Carous - Senior Investment Manager & Co-Lead, LOIM Plastic Circularity

Victoire Carous

Senior Investment Manager & Co-Lead, LOIM Plastic Circularity
Felix Philipp, PhD - Senior Research Analyst Materials and Circularity Lead

Felix Philipp, PhD

Senior Research Analyst Materials and Circularity Lead

Welcome to Plastic wrap, our bimonthly review of the science, policy and corporate activity pivotal in creating a circular plastics value chain.

The first close of our Plastic Circularity strategy expanded our limited partner (LP) base, with Dow and Lyondell Basellamong the initial investors to make commitments. Our technical advisor, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, recently presented our approach to reimagining plastic waste in a workshop on catalysing capital at the Global Impact Investment Network Conference. By minimising waste and maximising reuse and replacement with alternatives, our strategy aims to transition to a circular model for a new plastics value chain.


Need to know

  • Studies find that reusable packaging has the edge over single-use with regards to environmental aspects and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • A UN Global Treaty on Plastics moves a step further while the EU restricts microplastics that are intentionally added to products
  • Providers of waste management platforms, bio-based packaging and refill subscription services were among the companies recently raising capital in the plastic-circularity space



Microplastics: up in the air

The discovery of airborne microplastics confirms the extent to which the small particles are now widely present across the Earth. Japanese scientists analysed samples of cloud water at the summits of Mount Fuji and Mount Oyama and found nine types of microplastics.

Microplastics can harm living creatures and even potentially influence the climate, the researchers from several Japanese universities wrote in a paper in Environmental Chemistry Letters. Of special concern was that some of the microplastics they found at high altitude could influence cloud formation and, in turn, might modify the climate.

Fact-based research to inspire a Global Plastics Treaty

A report by Systemiq2 for the Nordic Council of Ministers made 15 global policy recommendations to end plastic pollution. If universally adopted and supported by a set of common global rules that are legally binding, these policies could cut annual volumes of mismanaged plastic waste by 90% and virgin plastic use by 30% by 2040 relative to 2019 levels. The report also delved into the broader repercussions of plastic pollution, such as biodiversity threats, health risks, and the urgent need for a just transition, underlining the urgency of comprehensive, globally binding rules and collaboration to drive change.

Reusable packaging has the edge

Two studies have recently assessed the environmental performance of single-use packaging products versus multiple-use products and found that reusable packaging has the edge.

The Joint Research Center (JRC), the scientific arm of the European Commission conducted its analysis as part of a focus on reuse targets in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation proposal. As the EU's scientific and knowledge service, the JRC plays a pivotal role in supporting evidence-based policymaking.

A different study by Zero Waste Europe, Reloop, and TOMRA also considered how reusable systems impact the climate compared to single-use takeaway packaging. It looked at the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a wide range of common takeaway packaging, including cups, burger boxes, bowls, pizza boxes, and sushi containers. Reusable take-away packaging could present a compelling climate case over single-use alternatives if return and washing systems are properly implemented and optimised, the report said.

In nearly all the types of packaging it examined, the study showed that reusable packaging can significantly reduce GHG emissions compared to respective single-use plastic or paper containers. The only exception was pizza boxes, which will likely need further innovations in design to fully unlock the benefits of reuse.


Policy, regulation and disclosure

Drafting a Global Plastics Treaty

Last month, the United Nations unveiled the Zero draft text for a Global Plastics Treaty that will be a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution. The draft text is designed to guide and support the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee at its meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in November. A formal treaty is envisaged by the end of 2024.

The text addresses concerns raised by member states and presents multiple options. It outlines the common aspect(s) between options for particular elements in order to allow members to select or combine different choices based on their preferences.  

"The draft demonstrates that an impactful treaty is possible," said WWF. "It shows how global measures… can be formulated and provides clear suggestions for how they can be structured in the treaty."

Restricting microplastics

Using the EU chemical legislation, REACH, the EU Commission adopted measures to restrict microplastics that are intentionally added to products.

The new rules will prevent the release into the environment of about half a million tonnes of microplastics. They will prohibit the sale of: microplastics as such, products to which microplastics have been purposefully added, and products that release microplastics when used. When duly justified, derogations and transition periods for the affected parties to adjust to the new rules apply. The restriction uses a broad definition of microplastics to reduce emissions of intentional microplastics from as many products as possible.


Corporate activity3

Funding for waste management platforms, bio-based packaging and refill subscription services were highlights we have identified among recent announcements aligned with the themes of improved collection, sortation and recycling, innovative materials and new usage models.


Themes and solutions

  • Biomaterials

    Germany-based biomaterials startup Traceless Materials, launched in 2020, has raised a EUR 37 million series A round from SWEN Capital Partners / SWEN Blue Ocean Partners, United Bankers, the city of Hamburg, GLS Bank and existing investors. The company develops bio-based, home-compostable and plastic-free materials by repurposing agricultural residues to produce granulates which could eventually be processed into rigid molded parts, flexible films, paper coatings, and/or adhesives.



    Israel-based UBQ, which converts landfill waste into a recyclable bioplastic, raised a USD 70 mn growth financing round from Eden Global Partners and existing investors. The company's technology offers a singular homogeneous and consistent material made out of a seemingly heterogeneous mixed waste input, enabling corporate clients and customers to use a sustainable bio-based thermoplastic material as a substitute for conventional oil-based plastics and reduce their carbon footprint. The proceeds will be used to open a new plant in the Netherlands.

  • Reuse/refill models

    UK-based Bower Collective has completed a crowdfunding round through Crowdcube to open the company up to its community and wider public. The company offers a subscription service for refillable home and personal products. The proceeds will be used to accelerate the expansion into physical retail and invest further in the company’s reusable packaging system.

  • Waste management platforms

    South Korea-based Recycling Management was fully acquired by NZ-based Genesis Capital, in a leveraged buyout (LBO) transaction valuing the company at more than USD 200 million. Genesis Capital previously invested in the company in its 2021 growth/expansion round, and has now acquired the remainder of the shares.


    Waste management platforms

    Germany-based waste management digital platform Resourcify has raised a EUR 14 mn Series A round from Vorwerk Ventures, BonVenture, WEPA Ventures and existing investors. The company is a cloud-based platform that helps clients identify valuable waste and assists companies to connect with local recyclers. The funds will be used to scale the platform across Europe.

To learn more about our Plastic Circularity private-equity strategy, please click here.


[1] Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.

[2]  Lombard Odier is a capital partner in Systemiq and recently announced a new partnership to build holistiQ Investment Partners (“holistiQ”), a platform within LOIM solely dedicated to sustainable investing

[3] Any reference to a specific company or security does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell, hold or directly invest in the company or securities. It should not be assumed that the recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities discussed in this document.

important information.

For professional investors only

This document is issued by Lombard Odier Asset Management (Europe) Limited, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”), and entered on the FCA register with registration number 515393. This document is approved at the date of publication.

Lombard Odier Investment Managers (“LOIM”) is a trade name.

This document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute an offer or a recommendation to purchase or sell any security or service. It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful. This material does not contain personalized recommendations or advice and is not intended to substitute any professional advice on investment in financial products. Before entering into any transaction, an investor should consider carefully the suitability of a transaction to his/her particular circumstances and, where necessary, obtain independent professional advice in respect of risks, as well as any legal, regulatory, credit, tax, and accounting consequences. This document is the property of LOIM and is addressed to its recipient exclusively for their personal use. It may not be reproduced (in whole or in part), transmitted, modified, or used for any other purpose without the prior written permission of LOIM. This material contains the opinions of LOIM, as at the date of issue.

UK regulation for the protection of retail clients in the UK and the compensation available under the UK Financial Services Compensation scheme does not apply in respect of any investment or services provided by an overseas person. A summary of investor rights and information on the integration of sustainability risks are available at:

Neither this document nor any copy thereof may be sent, taken into, or distributed in the United States of America, any of its territories or possessions or areas subject to its jurisdiction, or to or for the benefit of a United States Person. For this purpose, the term "United States Person" shall mean any citizen, national or resident of the United States of America, partnership organized or existing in any state, territory or possession of the United States of America, a corporation organized under the laws of the United States or of any state, territory or possession thereof, or any estate or trust that is subject to United States Federal income tax regardless of the source of its income.

Source of the figures: Unless otherwise stated, figures are prepared by LOIM.

Although certain information has been obtained from public sources believed to be reliable, without independent verification, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or the completeness of all information available from public sources.

Views and opinions expressed are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation by LOIM to buy, sell or hold any security. Views and opinions are current as of the date of this presentation and may be subject to change. They should not be construed as investment advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form, by any means, or (ii) distributed to any person that is not an employee, officer, director, or authorised agent of the recipient, without Lombard Odier Asset Management (Europe) Limited prior consent. ©2023 Lombard Odier IM. All rights reserved.