New York-based Closed Loop Partners, an investment firm with circular economy objectives, has invested in Fresno, California-headquartered ERI, which provides information technology asset disposition (ITAD) services, electronics recycling services and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction, through its Leadership Fund. Additionally, Ron Gonen, founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners, has been elected to ERI’s board of directors.
Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund was established in 2019 and is part of the private equity group at Closed Loop Partners. The fund, investors in which include Microsoft, Nestlé and Unilever, as well as institutional investors and family offices, focuses on investing in and scaling businesses fundamental to keeping packaging, organics, electronics and apparel out of landfills and within a circular system, according to Closed Loop Partners.
John Shegerian, ERI chairman and CEO, says Closed Loop Partners is taking an ownership stake in ERI, though he declines to divulge the percentage breakdowns of the company’s ownership stakes. Its other investors include the Redwood Materials, a Nevada-based company that is working to create circular supply chains for lithium-ion batteries; South Korea-based LS-Nikko Copper, one of the world’s largest copper smelters; and aluminum producer Alcoa, based in Pittsburgh, which took a 10 percent stake in ERI in 2011.
He says the funding from the Leadership Fund will help ERI meet its objectives “in numerous ways.” Shegerian adds, “Two companies already supported by the Closed Loop Fund, Amp Robotics and Retrievr, are already long-time partners with ERI, and we look forward to partnering and exploring other synergistic opportunities with other great shared brands as well as with the many terrific iconic companies that are Closed Loop Partners investors, who can become potential clients of ERI. Also, having Ron Gonen, one of the premier circular economy thought-leaders of our generation, sitting on our board is a tremendous asset in itself. And a dream come true for me personally.”
ERI’s areas of focus in terms of capital spending will include additional artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, expansion in North American and internationally and enhancements to the company’s proprietary online tracking software, Shegerian says. ERI has AI and robotics installations at its Fresno and Plainfield, Indiana, processing facilities.
“ERI is the leading recycler of electronics in the United States, consistently demonstrating the viability of closed-loop systems for high-value materials,” Gonen says in a news release announcing the investment. “With Americans discarding $55 billion in e-waste annually, and the waste stream projected to grow more rapidly in the coming years, diverting these materials from landfills and back into manufacturing supply chains is critical. Our partnership with ERI will strengthen circular supply chains that ultimately benefit people, the planet and business.”
In that same news release, Shegerian calls this “the perfect time for a partnership between ERI and Closed Loop Partners,” citing factors that include “the internet of things, cars essentially becoming computers on wheels, an increase in wearable tech, the 4G to 5G switchover, increasing consumption, data privacy issues and other factors, e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world—growing at a rate five times faster than any other waste stream.”
Shegerian says, “By partnering with our longtime friends at Closed Loop Partners, we are ideally positioned to play a meaningful role in accelerating change.”
He adds that ERI’s relationship with Gonen extends back many years, with Gonen having introduced ERI to Amp Robotics. “He was also serving as deputy commissioner of Sanitation, Recycling and Sustainability for New York City when ERI teamed with the city to launch the city’s groundbreaking and award-winning residential e-waste pickup and recycling program, ecycleNYC.
“As a thought-leader, Ron has already provided tremendous guidance and insight in terms of the circular economy, and we are incredibly excited to be entering into this new level of collaboration with him and his team at Closed Loop Partners,” Shegerian adds.
Regarding its investment in ERI, Georgia Sherwin, director, Strategic Initiatives & Communications, at Closed Loop Partners, says, “As a leading circular economy investor, we saw immense opportunity in a strategic investment and partnership with ERI, the nation's largest electronics recycler, that continues to demonstrate the economic and environmental viability of diverting valuable electronics from landfill.”
She adds, “Together, building on Closed Loop Partners' network and expertise in the field, we can help lay the foundations for a truly circular economy for electronics at scale. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world; it's urgent that we address this challenge as we strive toward a waste-free future.”