Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Washington’s NextCycle Initiative seeks innovators for circular economy development

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OLYMPIA - NextCycle Washington, an initiative committed to bolstering waste reduction and recycling solutions for businesses, has embarked on its mission to expand and sustainably innovate within the state. Since its inauguration last year, the program has backed 14 accelerator teams, disbursed 41 seed grants, and catalyzed investments totaling $13.5 million, culminating in the creation of 70 new jobs and diverting 4 million pounds of material away from landfills.

As the program gears up for its second phase, NextCycle Washington invites applications from aspiring entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses eager to participate in its Circular Accelerator Program. This initiative, founded on the principle of waste elimination and material reutilization, seeks to foster a culture of recycling and reusing materials continually.

Selected candidates will engage in a comprehensive six-month curriculum spanning from March to September 2024. This includes attending a two-day Accelerator Academy, receiving personalized consulting and technical support to fine-tune their business strategies, and refining project presentations. The program culminates in a Pitch Showcase where teams will vie for monetary awards, showcasing their impactful work.

Peter Lyon, Solid Waste Management program manager for the Washington Department of Ecology and NextCycle Washington’s sponsor, highlighted the initiative’s transformative potential. "With this unique program, we’re proving that there are real business opportunities here in Washington that deliver on that promise. And we’re helping those great ideas get off the ground and grow," Lyon commented.

Applications for NextCycle Washington's accelerator are open until Jan. 26, welcoming projects in two key areas: upstream projects focusing on waste prevention and improving material reuse and downstream projects enhancing recycling, recovery, and end-use innovations.

The Refugee Artisan Initiative earned recognition earlier this year, winning the Upstream and People’s Choice awards. Their commendable effort involved repurposing retired fire hoses from the US Forest Service into marketable products, aiding in waste reduction and job creation for refugee women.

Diversity and inclusivity are core values of the Accelerator Program, with external experts and community representatives actively participating in oversight and guidance. The initiative emphasizes inclusivity by engaging historically excluded communities, ensuring accessibility, and fostering robust networks for collaboration.

A virtual information session is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 11, from 5-6:30 p.m., where interested parties can inquire about program specifics, eligible projects, and application requirements.

NextCycle Washington, a joint endeavor of the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington Recycling Development Center, receives support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information, visit NextCycle Washington's website at https://www.nextcyclewashington.com.

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