Paving the Way to Sustainability, with Alexander Guslisty, Founder & CEO of Big Atom

In the pursuit of a truly circular economy for breaking down waste tyres and plastics into raw materials for reuse, Alexander Guslisty, the visionary Founder & CEO of Big Atom, has been leading the charge for five years.

As a seasoned expert in the recycling industry, he envisioned a future where waste materials could be transformed into valuable resources for reuse, creating a positive impact on the environment.

However, his journey has not been without its share of challenges...

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Big Atom
Published on
August 9, 2023

In a recent interview, Alexander Guslisty candidly shares the triumphs and hurdles Big Atom has faced while striving to make their sustainability dreams a reality.

"When I set up Big Atom five years ago, I naively thought we'd quickly develop a true circular economy for breaking down waste tyres and plastics into raw materials for reuse," reflects Alexander. "As a company, we've made great strides, but it feels like the system is rigged against us."

One of the major obstacles Big Atom confronts is the unpredictability of feedstock supply. Overnight, their supply of End-of-Life Tyres (ELT) can vanish if it becomes more economical for other companies to export them to countries like India or Pakistan. While this may be a manifestation of the free market, it poses challenges for sustainability efforts on a global scale.

"The government could play a significant role in addressing this issue by banning all exports of ELT, but they seem reluctant to act," remarks Alexander. "Sadly, when it comes to sustainability, there is often more talk than action."

Alexander also shares his frustration with big corporations that claim to prioritise the environment through extensive advertising campaigns, yet refuse to take simple steps that could genuinely make a difference. He firmly believes that many of these corporations engage in greenwashing, presenting a facade of eco-consciousness while not backing it up with meaningful actions.

A key concern for Big Atom is the lack of support for essential research and development in sustainable tyre recycling. Alexander questions why big refineries cannot pass on Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs) to businesses like his, which are creating oil from tyres through pyrolysis. Without support, the burden of driving innovation in sustainable recycling processes falls upon relatively smaller players like Big Atom, who take all the risks.

Despite the challenges, Alexander remains committed to finding solutions and driving change. He introduces an innovative concept that could revolutionise the industry - the recycling voucher system.

"In a nutshell, it's a voucher. Every time a tyre is sold, a recycling voucher is purchased to cover the cost of its environmentally friendly disposal. The beauty of the scheme is its simplicity. It's not tied to the actual tyre -- in effect, it's a circularity credit," explains Alexander.

The visionary CEO believes that this voucher system could incentivise sustainable disposal practices across the industry, fostering a collective effort towards environmental conservation. Big Atom has already initiated a pilot program and expects to have enough data to launch the scalable voucher scheme by the end of the year or early 2024

Alexander Guslisty's commitment to sustainability is not driven by zealotry but rather by a pragmatic understanding of the problems that need solving. He envisions a future where the recycling industry collaborates, driven by a sense of responsibility, to create a cleaner and more sustainable planet.

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