- Having previously worked within a family-owned company, founding Bower with my sister Berfin, the company’s COO, came naturally to me. But as it turns out, being able to work with the people closest to me while tackling an issue that will affect future generations for years to come, is in itself an achievement I’ll forever be proud of.
- Since we founded the business, Berfin and I have been able to grow our team to 27 really talented people. Together we were recognised as PwC Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2019, and Carnegie and SVD Future Entrepreneurs. I am more than proud of this team, and working with them makes every day a highlight.
What is your field of expertise?
Often I find that people’s fields of expertise neatly overlap with what they’re passionate about. My twin passions are building businesses and sustainability. So I think it’s fair to say I’m an expert when it comes to entrepreneurship, and I have knowledge about the environment and how we can help save the planet.
Bower, our company, is a revolutionary tech product that provinces financial incentives to people who recycle. My role, and therefore you could say my expertise, is to continue to build our amazing team and to make sure we fulfil our mission of getting more people recycling.
Describe your journey to where you are today.
With an engineering background, I have always looked to find technological solutions for real-world problems. I founded Bower (initially called PantaPå) in 2015 to combat the overconsumption of plastic bags by consumers. Initially offering an analogue system where customers could deposit cotton bags as an alternative to plastic, we quickly evolved into rewarding customers for returning their plastic bags.
Feeling that this was not enough, we wanted to expand our offering further and today the Bower app rewards users for recycling all types of product packaging, and we have established partnerships with big businesses like Nestle and Unilever. The digital deposit system we developed is one of a kind and encourages people to be more conscious of how they dispose of their waste.
What does your company do, for whom, and how does it fit into the bigger picture of solving global issues with clean tech?
Recycling has for too long been complicated, confusing and time-consuming. Bower aims to make it less so, at the same time as helping resolve the plastic packaging crisis. Simply put, the Bower app rewards people for recycling their waste. We make it easy for users to know how and what to recycle, while at the same giving something back to them for making the effort. All the customer has to do is scan a package with their phone, drop it off at their nearest recycling point, and then be rewarded in the form of discounts, coupons or money straight into their bank.
And it works! Bower’s 350,000 Nordic users alone recycle more than 2 million packages every month and have helped to save over a million kilograms of C02 to-date. With international expansion in our pipeline, we’re really excited to bring our solution to new markets.
We’re also encouraging brands to become more involved in where their products end up. This is a win-win for both consumers and corporations. A report by Pew Trust found that 40% of today’s global plastic waste ends up in the environment, and Bower aims to encourage both producers and consumers to improve their green processes in order to fully tackle the plastic crisis.
What do you think is the most important thing we can be doing in terms of clean tech solutions?
In order to reduce the damage that we are doing to the environment, we must use clean technology at both the macro and micro levels. Clean technology can streamline production to reduce waste and emissions, to then be used to improve the disposal and reprocessing of the items or products it creates. Of course, cleaning up hugely wasteful manufacturing processes will be key to tackling climate change, but at an individual level, easy-to-use technology is pivotal to society going greener. From digitising information that can increase awareness, to apps like Bower that incentivize people to recycle rather than throw away their products, technology is chipping away at the world’s pollution problem. The little things do add up, and we need people to acknowledge that. We all have a part to play.
LinkedIn: Suwar Mert