Christian Schiller, the CEO & Co-Founder of Cirplus, a global marketplace for recyclates and plastic waste feedstock, is a leader driven by excellence. Since its establishment, he has led the organization to some extraordinary growth. Under his leadership, the organization has transformed itself from a new startup into a promising brand that has been creating ripples across the business world. With his visionary and realistic thought process, Christian is known to transform challenges into opportunities and does everything it takes to bring massive value to the clients and his organization.
In an interview with Aspioneer, Christian discusses how his company is tackling the plastic waste problem.
Aspioneer (A): Could you tell us a bit about your organization and how it works?
Christian Schiller (C): “Formed in December 2018, Cirplus is the first global B2B marketplace for circular plastics. Its platform connects waste managers, recyclers, and product manufacturers to allow them to buy and sell recycled plastics in a reliable and cost-effective way by digitizing the entire procurement process. Users can gain an overview of the global supply and demand and will be able to process the entire transaction at one central location. Our platform has more than 1,200 companies from 100 countries onboard and at peak times, up to 1.3 million tons of material are listed. The goal is to make plastic waste history by making circular plastics the go-to material. We are doing it by building a platform for finding, negotiating, contracting, shipping, insuring, and paying for recyclates and plastic waste trades across the globe. Through standardization and digitalization, transactional costs will be lowered and Cirplus will make plastic recyclates the solution. Our company is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.”
"Our mission is to build a platform for finding, negotiating, contracting, shipping, insuring, and paying for recyclates and plastic waste trades across the globe."
(A): So how was the idea of Cirplus conceived? Can you throw some light on it?
(C): “The idea for Cirplus was born off the unlikely coast of Colombia. After I had built and scaled BlaBlaCar Germany, today’s largest ridesharing platform in the world, I decided to travel the world. Sailing from coast to coast through the Caribbean to Colombia I was face-to-face with the plastic crisis -a hundred metres long dense carpet of plastic waste. I knew I had to do something to tackle this crisis. The world produces over 380 million tons of plastic every year and, unfortunately, only 9% of this is recycled. I, and my co-founder, Volkan Bilici (a web technology veteran and blockchain expert), therefore, had the ambitious task of creating a global marketplace for circular plastics. To make plastic waste history, we wanted to keep plastic, an extremely valuable material, in the loop. We set Cirplus up with the aim of solving the currently complex, highly fragmented, and non-transparent market of plastic recyclates. Currently, virgin plastic is cheaper than recycled plastics. Qualities and quantities are inconsistent and the market participants are often digital dinosaurs — many still hesitate to update to more modern operating systems. In Cirplus we have created one central location for buying and selling plastic recyclates in a cost-effective way.”
(A): As Cirplus is a global platform, who are your customers and how do your services benefit them?
(C): “Cirplus’ aim to create a global platform for circular plastics has benefitted many. Including, but not limited to:
RECYCLERS, who have the potential to exploit a new, growing revenue stream of high-quality recyclates, where higher quality equals a higher price. Cirplus’ platform makes it easy and cost-efficient for them to prove the quality of their recyclates via DIN SPEC 91446 and smart matching.
CONVERTERS & BRAND OWNERS, who care about having a stable, quality-assured supply of materials and can execute deals in a secure way.
TESTING LABS, who care about gaining more revenues from more testing directed towards them.
CONSUMERS, who care about having assurances from large companies that they are meeting their recycled plastic goals and that the products they use in daily life are more circular.
REGULATORS, who care about ensuring that the goals of their legislation are met by establishing effective standards for the industry and honoring pledges with the cooperation of big industrial players.
Going one step further than other businesses in the sector, Cirplus combines the power of digitization with standardization. Cirplus initiated the world’s first industry standard for high-quality recycling: DIN SPEC 91446. Previously, there was no standard for downcycled plastics. In a major breakthrough for the industry, Cirplus worked with 16 industry giants to set standards for recycled plastics and create transparency in terms of quantity, quality, and price. As a result, plastic recyclates can become a viable option for manufacturers who require standardization.”
(A): How would you describe your team and the work culture at Cirplus?
(C): “We have put together a really great team of experienced employees at Cirplus to tackle plastic pollution with full vigor. The Cirplus team, from day one, has been characterized by great diversity. Today, Brazilians, Portuguese, Russians, Turks, and Germans are all working together collectively on our vision of 100% circular plastics. At Cirplus, we are all united by the frustration of the endless plastic input into the environment, but instead of complaining, we are working on a concrete, scalable solution that paves the way for the true circularity of plastics. We like to live by the guiding principle of the legendary flight commander of the Apollo mission who carried the first man to the moon: “Be tough and competent”. In my opinion, it takes nothing less than an effort comparable to the moon landing to make plastics truly circular.”
(A): What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
(C): “Cirplus is the first to innovate on multiple levels, providing a comprehensive solution that facilitates the uptake of high-quality plastics into the value chain. One of our proudest achievements was the establishment of DIN SPEC 91446. In a major breakthrough for the industry, Cirplus set standards for recycled plastics and created transparency in terms of quantity, quality, and price, working alongside the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and 16 distinguished industry players. DIN SPEC91446 has been available to all market participants since November 2021 and is integrated into Cirplus software.”
(A): Where does Cirplus go from here?
(C): “Our mission is to build a platform for finding, negotiating, contracting, shipping, insuring, and paying for recyclates and plastic waste trades across the globe. This means that any company buying and selling recycled plastics across the globe will have just one bookmark in their browser: www.cirplus.com. Our intention for the next two years is to crack the famous ‘product-market-pricing-fit’ challenge. This is a common hurdle that start-ups need to overcome to flourish into a successful business. But in this space, we know what we are doing.”