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Sustainability

Circular economy

Secondhand has never been so stylish

Last updated: 6 Oct 2022

Market 101

Fast fashion and electronics have long been in the naughty books for their carbon footprints. Meanwhile, it’s more expensive than ever to buy the latest smartphone or trendy outfit, only for them to reside at the back of a drawer in two years’ time. How can we rein in our crazy shopping habits? Step forward, the circular economy. At its core, the model promotes longer product lifespans and giving old items new life — creating a zero-waste loop where today’s products become tomorrow’s raw materials.

Secondhand clothing is expected to grow 11x faster than its off-the-rail equivalent between now and 2025. Pre-owned marketplaces and rental platforms aren’t new; instead, recent breakthroughs focus on tightening the cycle by improving processes to repair products and upcycle previously wasted materials. This in turn increases the quality of refurbished products, garnering greater trust from shoppers feeling the pinch from soaring inflation.

Early stage market map

Key facts

$4.5t

Predicted global economic benefits of the circular economy by 20301

560kg

Annual waste generated per person2

87

% of clothing that goes to landfill or is incinerated every year3

Startups tracked by Sifted

Sifted take

A new economic model doesn’t dawn overnight — it requires a fundamental shift in how consumers and businesses behave. As resources become scarcer, and a cost of living crisis hits pockets, the early signs for the industry are promising. The next challenge is scaling waste management and upcycling solutions to make circularity a permanent fixture in all of our lifestyles.

Rising stars

Epoch Biodesign

Upcycling

Polymer waste

Total funding

€11m

London, United Kingdom
2019

Backed by Amadeus Capital and Possible Ventures, it uses enzyme-based biorecycling processes to turn plastic waste into a range of chemicals — including paint, detergents and agro products.

Round

Seed


Date

2022

Size

€15m

Resourcify

Circular software

Total funding

€9m

Hamburg, Germany
2015

Backed by Sennder, Schüttflix and Speedinvest, it offers an all-in-one data-driven waste management platform — from reporting and accounting to contracts and data analysis.

Round

Seed


Date

2022

Size

€4.7m

Resortecs

Alternative materials

Total funding

€5.8m

Brussels, Belgium
2017

Developer of heat-dissolvable stitching threads, and a thermal disassembly system, this startup aims to simplify the recycling of textiles for both brands and recyclers.

Round

Grant


Date

2022

Size

€2.5m

Early stage startups to watch

&Repeat

Stockholm, Sweden
2020
Seed

1.8m

1.5m

-

BIG Atom

London, United Kingdom
2017

-

6m

1m

20m

By Rotation

London, UK, United Kingdom
2019
Seed

3.5m

2.7m

-

Circunomics

Mainz, Germany
2019
Seed

2.3m

1.8m

-

cirplus

Hamburg, Germany
2018
Seed

4.5m

3.3m

15m

Cling Systems

Stockholm, Sweden
2020
Seed

2.5m

2.3m

-

Composite Recycling Sàrl

Ecublens, Switzerland
2021
Grant

1.4m

1.4m

-

DePoly

Sion, Switzerland
2020
Pre-seed

2.9m

1.2m

4.2m

Epoch Biodesign

London, United Kingdom
2019
Seed

15m

11.4m

-

Fishy Filaments

Penzance, United Kingdom
2017
Pre-seed

600k

270k

3.5m

FixFirst

Berlin, Germany
2020
Angel

350k

300k

-

Greyparrot

London, United Kingdom
2019
Seed

4.5m

3.4m

11m

Healix BV

Maastricht, Netherlands
2018
Seed

10m

10.5m

-

iceep

Uster , Switzerland
2020
Pre-seed

600k

500k

-

junee

London, United Kingdom
2021
Angel

300k

300k

-

Kleiderly GmbH

Berlin, Germany
2019
Pre-seed

250k

200k

2.7m

NOOSA

Brussels, Belgium
2019
Seed

500k

500k

1m

Nuniq Beauty SARL

Commugny, Switzerland
2021
Bootstrapped

200k

200k

-

Nuw (The Nu Wardrobe)

London, United Kingdom
2019
Pre-seed

1.6m

1.1m

-

Ogoori

Stavanger, Norway
2019
Grant

1.2m

990k

-

Papkot™

Paris, France
2020
Bootstrapped

-

-

-

Ponera Group

Figino, Switzerland
2019
Seed

3.7m

30m

-

Pyxo

Paris, France
2018
Seed

7m

7m

-

Reath Technology Ltd T/A Reath

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
2019
Seed

370k

370k

3m

Rentle

Helsinki, Finland
2014
Seed

5m

3.8m

-

Resourcify GmbH

Hamburg, Germany
2015
Seed

9m

4.7m

-

reverse.supply

Berlin, Germany
2021
Seed

5m

5m

25m

ROSI

Grenoble, France
2017
Seed

1.3m

1.3m

4m

Scindo

London, United Kingdom
2020
Seed

1.1m

797k

-

Seenons

Amsterdam, Netherlands
2019
Seed

7.8m

6m

-

Sfridoo

Bologna, Italy
2017
Bootstrapped

-

-

-

traceless materials GmbH

Hamburg, Germany
2020
Seed

3.5m

1m

-

WeDress Collective

Vienna, Austria
2020
Angel

340k

250k

-

Europe’s success stories

Who early stage startups are up against

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

  • Europe’s largest online consumer-to-consumer platform, overtaking Depop

  • Claims to have 45m global members and 300m secondhand clothing items on its site

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

  • Refurbished tech marketplace that connects electronic repair shops and factories with consumers

  • Became France’s most valuable startup ($5.7bn) in January 2022

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

  • Subscribers can rent electronics such as computers, games consoles and smartphones, which are then refurbished and rented again to new users

  • Has also raised over $1bn in debt funding

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