12 Young Circular Economy Innovators
Meet Circularity 21 Emerging Leaders, a group of 12 students and early-career professionals looking to drive the transition to a circular economy.
The following article originally appeared on GreenBiz.com as part of Climate & Capital Media’s partnership with GreenBiz Group, a media and events company that accelerates the just transition to a clean economy.
When it comes to advancing a circular economy, innovators are working around the world with these three principles in mind — design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems.
During GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 21 online event in June, multiple examples of this were discussed on the main stage. There were the giants Amazon and Apple. And there were the startups that competed during the Accelerate competition. But behind the scenes, there are even more people doing this important work, including the Circularity 21 Emerging Leaders, a group of 12 students and early-career professionals looking to drive the transition to a circular economy.
One of those emerging leaders is Arnaldo Perez-Negron, founder of Zerodelivs, a zero-waste delivery service startup that is looking for investment to scale. (And he happened to connect with a VC in his city during a networking break at the virtual event.)
“It’s very exciting stuff. It’s hard. It’s very difficult. It’s a lot more complicated than I ever imagined … but it’s a problem that I want to solve, and that’s why I’m tackling it,” Perez-Negron said during one of the post-event discussions.
After each day of Circularity 21 in June, the event’s cohort of emerging leaders gathered to discuss their takeaways and learnings from the day’s keynotes and breakout sessions.
In addition to discussing general perceptions, during the last day’s discussion, we zoomed out a bit, and I asked them what makes them excited about the circular economy as a whole and how they see their own work contributing to its acceleration.
Read excerpts from our post-event conversations with the 12 innovators — along with written responses for emerging leaders who weren’t able to attend the discussion. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
The Circularity 21 Emerging Innovators List
(in alphabetical order)
Arnaldo Perez-Negron – Sustainability and resiliency specialist, Pinellas County in Florida; CEO/founder, Zerodelivs
Cyrina Thomas – Change agent fellow, Black Girl Ventures; chief plastic officer, Precious Plastic Cincy
Drishti Masand – Analyst Lux Research; contributor, accelerating materials innovations team
George Amoh – Founder, Huri Movement
Jennifer Coronel – Incoming graduate student, Northwestern University; research assistant, Kellogg School of Management
Faith Edem – Policy analyst, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Calista Huynh – Graduate, Parsons School of Design, The New School; assistant account executive, Edelman
Michael Rojas – MBA in sustainability; intern, circular value chain management and commercial operations, Signify
Olanike Gbadamosi – Masters student, regenerative sustainability, University of Saskatchewan
Shaymae Senhaji – Recent BS in earth, society and environmental sustainability; consultant, circular economy projects, Plant Chicago
Sophia Wu – Recent UCLA graduate; intern, partnership and sustainability, Patch
Teja Chatty – Ph.D. student, innovation fellow, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College; internet, sustainability, Stanley Black & Decker
Article by Deonna Anderson is an award-winning journalist and senior editor at GreenBiz. Previously, she was the Surdna reporting fellow at YES! Magazine. She’s an alumna of UC Davis and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY
Reprinted with permission from Climate & Capital Media, a strategic partner with GreenMoney Journal