Aug 30, 2022 - Business

Startups to pitch sustainable business ideas

Illustration of a plant shaped like a cog being watered by a watering can

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Old bullet-proof vests could furnish the next generation of water bottles.

Driving the news: As part of a city effort to steer waste away from landfills, eight Austin startups will pitch their "circular" business — those that are focused on reuse, zero waste or sustainability — to a panel of judges and investors for a chance to win $5,000.

Why it matters: Circular businesses support over $1 billion in local economic activity and over 6,300 jobs, according to the Austin Recycling & Reuse‐Related Economy Impact report from 2020.

Of note: The city is trying to reach a zero waste goal by 2040, or reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90%. The diversion rate in 2021 was 42%.

Details: The winner of the competition will receive prize money and a chance to connect with potential investors. Here's a look at the startups vying for the prize:

  • Born Again Kreations will create insulated water bottle holders with fabric from Austin Creative Reuse and bulletproof vests from Travis County.
  • Floral Sea is a conceptual fashion house and design studio focused on diversity and inclusivity in beauty, style and culture.
  • GROARTS plans to create a box for growing microgreens at home using plastic boxes and plastic inserts from the Austin Community College Bioscience Incubator and EQO.
  • Heron rents and delivers items that you don't use enough to buy, including carpet cleaners and air mattresses.
  • Not Nice turns aluminum cans into jewelry.
  • Reclaim.Repurpose.Reimagine creates packaging for luxury goods using fabric samples from Austin Creative Reuse and bulletproof vests from Travis County.
  • Revision Goods plans to create home goods with fabric samples from Austin Creative Reuse.
  • Use2 is an incubator, which aims to extend material goods' lifespans and sell them to entrepreneurs.

What they're saying: Jaclyn Heiser and Declan O'Reilly of GROARTS said the event would give their microgreens startup an opportunity to get in front of potential investors.

  • Founded in 2021, GROARTS, or Grow Agriculture Research and Technologies, reuses "pipette tip boxes" from ACC. The boxes are roughly 75% of lab-generated waste and often sorted as medical waste and incorrectly end up in the landfill, according to Heiser.
  • "There are so many waste streams out there, and a lot of things that get thrown away from different industries are very valuable materials," Heiser told Axios.

What's next: The competition's pitch event runs tonight from 5:30-8pm at The Cathedral. The event is free and open to the public.


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