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12 innovative circular economy startups in 2024

Get ready: Building materials made from fungus, AI-powered thrift shops, vacuum shares and more.

Credit: GreenBiz/Sophia Davirro

Credit: GreenBiz/Sophia Davirro

Achieving a sustainable economy hinges on advancing circular processes — a system, as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, where materials never become waste and nature is regenerated.

Circular economy entrepreneurs are pivotal in driving this change, using technology and innovative business models. Exciting concepts include everything from AI-powered secondhand shopping to waste-eating fungi. 

This year, we at GreenBiz identified a dozen of the most innovative circular startups, based on their strength across six criteria: the uniqueness of their solution; robustness of their business model; focus on customer needs; demonstrated traction; the relevant expertise of their team; and the quality of their pitch presentation. Other requirements: They are all incorporated, have a product ready and employ at least one person full-time. 

These top 12 were culled from 65 that applied to pitch their business to industry leaders at Circularity 24 on May 23 in Chicago. A short list of five will go on to pitch that day.

Here’s a quick look at the most promising circular startups we’re seeing now:

Upcycling waste
Lucent Biosciences in Vancouver turns waste from peas, lentils and oats into micronutrient fertilizer.

Refillable containers
Myro in New York sells a subscription to refillable body care product containers.

Shared vacuums, printers
Tulu in New York offers rental lockers at apartment buildings for printers, vacuums and other gear.

What to do with leftovers
Mi Terro in Los Angeles converts leftovers from food production and paper making into bioplastics.

Digital thrift shop
Beni in Santa Barbara, California, uses AI to scour online deals at secondhand clothing retailers. 

Zero-waste hygiene products
Aruna Revolution in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, engineers compostable, non-toxic period pads from food and crop waste.

Carryout containers
DeliverZero in New York enables reusable to-go containers for food takeout and delivery. 

More attractive bottles
Magnomer in Framingham, Massachusetts, creates easy-to-remove magnetic coatings to increase bottle recycling rates.

Building materials made from fungus
Mycocycle in Bolingbrook, Illinois, taps fungal mycelium to craft low-carbon foam, fiber and insulation for buildings.

Artificially intelligent recycling
Intuitive AI in Vancouver provides an AI assistant and analytics to boost recycling. 

Fleet electrification
Evolectric in Long Beach, California, converts commercial fleets to electric vehicles.

Gear matchmaking
LiquiDonate in San Francisco matches unsold and returned products to nonprofits and schools.

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