“Rethinking City Nets”
re:net is the first provider in Germany to develop solutions for the ecologically-sensible recycling and disposal of plastic nets in urban areas.
Tell us more about the re:net team:
There are five of us at re:net: co-founders Nathalia, Julia, Sina and Gavino, as well as Chris, who we recently welcomed to the team.
Nathalia is an avid sports fan and former athlete, with extensive experience in law and finance. She is a Future City Incubator participant and acts as re:net’s CEO and CFO. She keeps the team together with an enormous amount of humor and drive.
Julia keeps our boat afloat. She makes sure we stay abreast of all our commitments by organizing our calendar and work. With extensive experience in marketing and public relations, Julia is responsible for all our external communications.
Sina is a football manager in training and re:net’s CTO. Sure to delight each of our meetings with some soccer trivia, he uses his curiosity and meticulous approach to research to constantly uncover and answer new questions about both our materials and processes.
Gavino heads our acquisition of net suppliers. Born and bred in Berlin and a serial entrepreneur, he acts as our Partnership Manager. Gavino is blessed with an amicable manner, providing us with valuable insights from our local stakeholders.
Christopher supports re:net as an analyst drawing from his political science background and varied research experience. With his proactive and hard-working attitude, he’s become a valued team member of re:net in no time.
What motivated the founding of re:net?
We love sports. And we love our environment. Julia and Nathalia are passionate about freeing our environment from the negative impact of plastic waste; so much so that they met while working with a social startup in the field of sustainability. It was Sina who then mentioned plastic in sports as a topic worth addressing and, after some brainstorming, we quickly realised that sports nets are an urgent yet unresolved problem. Gavino then helped broaden our view by showing us that plastic nets can be found virtually everywhere, even beyond sports, e.g. on construction sites, in food retail, in agriculture, and at home.
Regardless of how efficient and all-encompassing we believe our national waste management system and recycling capabilities to be, in Germany, as of now, nets inevitably end up in incineration plants. We see an opportunity to change that: We want to raise the profile of urban nets as a recyclable resource and rethink their collection and environmentally-sound recycling as part of the transformation towards a modern circular economy.
What is unique about re:net in comparison to the competition?
Whether at sports clubs, private households, farms or construction sites: whenever people are dealing with anything made out of plastic, confusion abounds as to how to dispose of it in the most uncomplicated, cost-effective and “correct” way possible. Increasingly, that list now includes environmental concerns, too. This holds especially true for city nets and netting. Unfortunately, they belong to those products for which no proper environmentally-sound and scalable recycling option has been developed yet.
Due to this, all old and worn-out plastic nets in Germany are classified as household, bulky or residual waste, inevitably destined for thermal recycling aka incineration. Re:net closes this gap by making plastic city nets a part of the circular economy. To keep our CO2 footprint low, and support small- and medium-sized enterprises, we work with decentralised and local approaches: Our partners, such as washing or recycling companies as well as product developers, are and will remain local.
At the same time, our re:net collection service offers maximum convenience for our customers: a one-stop solution for the environmentally-sound disposal of all types of plastic nets, which spares our clients time, hassle, and transport costs. The collection service for commercially-used nets will be reasonably priced and be both much cheaper and more convenient than what is common for disposal in the industry to date. Afterwards, we’ll take care of the sorting, washing and recycling – making this as hands-off a process as possible for our clients. The only thing they will have to do is put their discarded plastic nets on a pile and contact us.
What is success for you?
At the heart of our purpose lies the protection of our habitat. Everything we do is ultimately aimed at the reduction of environmental damage.
At the same time, we’ve only been working on re:net for a couple of months. This means we’re still at a stage where every plastic net we acquire, every conversation we have about the problem with stakeholders, friends, or family is a reason to celebrate. Oftentimes, people are unaware of nets as one of the blindspots of our recycling industry, and are excited to understand both the problem and our solution. After all, there is virtually no publicly available information out there regarding net production, usage or disposal in any of our target sectors. By conducting research and talking to users, we’re shedding light on this neglected issue bit by bit. Producing a lot of first-cut knowledge is a valuable side effect of our daily work.
To make a long story short: We measure our success by the extent to which the environmentally-sound recycling rate of plastic nets and netting increases. Since a tremendous amount of nets can be found virtually everywhere, and in cities they are currently not being recycled at all, the sky’s the limit. By focusing on this objective, we’re reducing the production of virgin plastic, which is one of our planet’s biggest threats and a considerable contributor to CO2 emissions, and preventing the incineration of plastic, which also causes damage to the environment. Ultimately, we are really motivated to be part of and contribute to the transformation towards a modern circular economy.
How do you think you can scale?
First, our goal is to establish re:net in the Berlin area. Since the waste disposal system in Germany shows enough structural similarities across federal states, our pilot project can then hopefully be expanded to other German cities relatively easily. Moreover, while initially just targeting urban areas, we will then move on to addressing larger rural areas, in cooperation with our local and regional partners.
Due to the significant differences between local waste disposal systems in different European countries, it seems unlikely for us to be able to copy and paste our approach beyond Germany. However, since the material composition of nets is largely identical everywhere and the problems we are tackling are almost universal, we aim at eventually adapting our solutions, together with national actors and local businesses.
If you want to learn more about re:net visit: https://renetnow.com/
Meet the team!