Green.Org sits down with Matt Senesky, founder of Iterant, a marketplace platform for the circular economy, to learn about his background in renewable energy and his vision for a sustainable future.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m a problem solver. My background is in engineering, but more and more I find that the problems that excite me involve human behavior, complex systems and economics. I spent the first half of my career working on hardware for EVs, energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy storage. But as those fields mature (which is a great thing), the challenges have become narrower, and the marketplace has become dominated by larger players. It can be hard to feel that you’re making an impact as an individual. So earlier this year I decided to take a big leap and step away from hardware and the energy space. I founded a company called Iterant, which is a marketplace platform for the circular economy. By helping manufacturers build profitable business models around reuse of their products, we can collectively make less stuff, resulting in dramatic reductions in resource extraction, energy usage and GHG emissions.
What is a fun fact about you?
My grandfather worked for the Bakelite Corporation, making the first synthetic plastic. It was revolutionary at the time, but plastics have become a real sustainability challenge today. I like the idea that if Iterant can help eliminate single-use plastic, his career and mine might be two bookends to the plastics era. I think he’d approve – he loved nature and being outdoors!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
As terrifying as the consequences of climate change have been so far, we’ve only scratched the surface. The mass migration of people displaced by sea level rise and crop failures has the potential to cause global misery beyond even what we’ve seen with the covid pandemic. We need every single person pitching in to avoid disaster.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
There’s something like 7.5 trillion dollars worth of new durable manufactured goods produced globally each year. I’d like to see that number fall dramatically, with capital, jobs and resources shifted to reuse, refurbishment and reverse logistics. To make that happen, we need to reimagine business models in light of the full lifecycle of a product. Iterant is designed to provide manufacturers with alternative revenue streams from reuse of their products, so they have an incentive to support this transition.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Rethink your consumption habits. It’s difficult – I’m still working on it myself. Avoid single-use packaging by bringing your own bags and containers, decline plastic utensils when you get food delivery, try to keep your phone longer by getting the screen repaired or the battery replaced, look into buying secondhand or refurbished items. When you find yourself putting something in the trash, take a moment to reflect on how you can avoid throwing away similar items in the future.