10 Future-Thinking Startups Fighting Climate Change

By Katherine Moldow Published on Sep. 21, 2021

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its long-awaited sixth assessment report, widely regarded as the most comprehensive summary of the physical science of climate change―and their findings were nothing short of condemnatory.

Plug and Play is driven by this dire report to introduce solutions to the highlighted problems. As an innovation and venture capital firm, we view the recommendations made in the report as a call to action; a reminder that now, more than ever, we must prioritize uplifting innovative technologies that engage with different facets of the climate crisis. That is why we are always on the lookout for new startups that help the world fight climate change.

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Using the IPCC Report as a guide, we have identified three main challenges: Achieving net-zero carbon emissions, changing the food industry, and rethinking manufacturing. In this article, you will find some key climate change startups in our portfolio that are tackling these three challenges.

Challenge #1: Achieving Net Zero

In projecting future CO2 emissions levels, the IPCC report claims with high confidence that natural carbon sinks found on land and in the ocean will continuously weaken in their ability to slow the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. Taking into account that annual carbon emissions reach 51 billion tons and the rate of industrialization is increasing rapidly, it’s of paramount importance to work towards carbon neutrality, and fast.

Two of our portfolio startups, Circular and Heirloom, have each identified ways of accelerating this process.

Reducing and Offsetting Carbon Emissions


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Circulor is a climate tech startup founded in 2007. They aim to bring transparency to materials supply chains. Through their SaaS digital platform, Circulor is able to track raw material composition changes in order to monitor emissions and underpin circular economy ambitions.


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Sylvera’s approach to carbon reduction within the industry and supply chain is based on their combination SaaS digital platform and API, which serve as a data verifier to help the carbon offset market scale. More specifically, Sylvera works with offset projects to increase their validity by running geospatial data, machine learning and climate data through their algorithms to create a standardized rating for a specific carbon offset project.

Direct Carbon Capture


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At Heirloom, CO2 emission reductions are achieved in a drastically different manner―through enhancing naturally occurring minerals that act as our planet’s best carbon sinks.

Challenge #2: Changing the Food Industry

Another finding in the Report asserts that methane levels in the air are at the highest they’ve ever been in the last 800,000 years. With agriculture at the forefront of methane emitters, rapid and sustained changes to our food industry are necessary for limiting climate warming.

Plug and Play has recently invested in two different climate change startups that aim to curb agricultural emissions by increasing the efficiency of the supply chain and ensuring no food goes to waste.

Food waste and insecurity


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Reducing food waste and uplift vulnerable communities are just a few sustainable innovation examples — Join Plug and Play and meet more sustainable startups like Nilus

Argentina-based Nilus, founded in 2018, aims to curb food waste and uplift vulnerable communities concurrently. Nilus has taken the fact that over a third of the food produced in the world is thrown out as motivation in creating their product. The Nilus digital platform facilitates the distribution of food at risk of being wasted from producers and retailers to low-income neighborhoods at 30-50% of their market price. Since its creation, Nilus has delivered food to over 90,000 people suffering from food insecurity throughout Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Solving inefficiencies in the food supply chain

Journey Foods

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The Journey Foods software enables food companies to make better strategic decisions and increase monitoring efficiency throughout the packaged foods market. Within the Journey Foods database, pricing, supply chain, and nutrition parameters are dynamically analyzed by Nilus algorithms to suggest optimized portfolio recommendations. To date, the database of this climate change startup has gathered over 2 billion ingredient insights.

Challenge #3: Rethinking Manufacturing

At Plug and Play, we have identified a third key challenge to achieving greenhouse gases reductions such as carbon dioxide and methane. That challenge involves a need to shift away from ineffective modern manufacturing processes. Across the supply chain, this may involve but is not limited to: increasing traceability and trust in end products, reducing the use of virgin materials, incorporating post-consumer waste into products, or replacing existing materials with ones that have little or no carbon footprint. Within Plug and Play’s Sustainability Portfolio are five startups leading the effort.

Introducing new materials


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At its core, Checkerspot is a materials company. Innovation is achieved through their design―at a molecular level―of new high-performance, sustainable materials. Whether it be next-gen polyurethanes, or textile coatings/finishes, Checkerspot utilizes the microbial process to commercial scale. Their approach is also more sustainable than relying on petrochemical inputs.

Utilizing waste


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Innovation and sustainability go hand-in-hand — join us and meet more innovative startups like Greyparrot

AI-based Greyparrot is turning the tide on waste by unlocking the financial value of waste. Through its waste recognition software, Greyparrot is able to monitor, audit and sort waste at scale. With Greyparrot’s system, waste managers are equipped with the power to increase recycling rates and enhance product value in pursuit of a circular economy.


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Founded in 2018, Oceanworks is hoping to drive recycled plastic offtake and reduce demand for new virgin plastic. It’s platform aims to create a global marketplace for sustainable materials by recirculating them in the supply chain for a variety of clients.


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Byfusion is revolutionizing the construction industry by putting plastic waste to work, for good. Through eco-friendly compression methods, ByFusion converts plastic waste material into cost-effective, construction-grade building blocks. In direct competition with the modern concrete building block, Byfusion’s ByBlock® produces 41% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Byfusion is already making waves in the plastics and construction industry―in May, the City of Boise announced it would be outsourcing materials to Byfusion for the building of around 407 public infrastructure projects.

Increasing transparency and trust

rePurpose Global

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Achieving transparency in supply chains is important in understanding the total environmental and social impact of a business’s operations. As the world’s first Plastic Credit Platform, Repurpose Global is addressing this need through conducting third-party, independent verification of the promised environmental impact of company operations. Since its founding, RePurpose has taken environmental action for people across 26 countries and 100+ purposeful companies, including both impact-driven SMEs and Fortune 500 companies.


We at Plug and Play are committed to tackling the challenges highlighted in the IPCC report in our efforts to promote sustainable futures for all. This report serves as an indication that we must act now before we see irreversible damage to the environment. As such, we are motivated more than ever to achieve transformational change by supporting startups confronting these issues and engaging with innovators and passionate individuals alike.

Innovation in sustainability is happening. Don’t be left behind.

AtPlug and Play Sustainability, we are in touch with corporations and startups that are changing the world as we know it. Join our platform today.