Introducing Chicago to the Circular Economy

Rheaply

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Rheaply works as an asset management company, introducing the circular economy, resource sharing, and waste diversion into business models. Their innovation works to solve some of the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goals 9, 11, and 12.

Authors

Maddie Sullivan

Maddie Sullivan

Alyse Ketcham

Alyse Ketcham

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

The idea for Rheaply began in 2016 with a recent PhD graduate working in a lab. This graduate, Garry Cooper, noticed that the lab he worked for was creating a surplus of supplies that just went to waste. After creating a program within the lab that allowed groups to use unwanted outputs from other groups, a colleague of Cooper’s suggested that he create a larger program to use this idea of creating a circular economy between businesses in order to divert waste from landfills. Thus, Cooper left his job at the lab, and Rheaply was born.

The purpose of Rheaply’s innovation is to divert waste from landfills in new ways. Cooper’s vision is to create a network of supplies in order to meet the constant need for business’ demands. This business model is innovative because it appeals to companies in order to save money and promote a sustainable brand. They do this all while supporting sustainable practices through diverting waste from the landfill to reuse from other businesses.

This innovation is striving to create more sustainable innovations, infrastructure, and industry; sustainable cities and communities; and responsible consumption and production.

Introducing Chicago to the Circular Economy

Inspiration

The inspiration for Rheaply came from a colleague of Cooper’s who suggested that he take on the small project for diverting waste as a new career. Later, when being congratulated for creating a circular economy program, Cooper was not even familiar with this term. This sparked research and outreach to other businesses to support this new idea. The name Rheaply comes from the two words “reuse” and “cheaply.” It just so happens that the name also resembles the word “reapply,” which is fitting for the business’ practice.

Overall impact

The overall impact of Rheaply’s business has been seen in many levels environmentally, in the community, and in the business world. Due to Rheaply’s actions, waste has been diverted from the landfill in many capacities. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transporting waste, and reduces waste overall since new products aren’t being created to fill the demand.

Within the community, Rheaply has created a large impact, especially within schools. Rheaply has worked with several Chicago public schools and has allowed them to use their services for free. Because of this, there is also less waste being produced that pollutes the communities.

Lastly, Rheaply has had a large impact in the business world. Recently, Rheaply was named a rising global founder to tap into Silicon Valley Mindset by Blackbox’s Connect 21. This award is highly selective and shows the innovative mindset that Rheaply has acquired. They have also been chosen as one of 50 Startups to Watch by Built in Chicago.

Business benefit

The business model of Rheaply works to benefit not only Rheaply as a company, but also each company they work with. By bringing asset management and the circular economy together, Rheaply is creating a space for businesses to sustainably and efficiently share resources with each other.

Not only are they working to create more sustainable businesses, but Rheaply is contributing to more sustainable economic growth. The platform Rheaply provides to companies, allows them to become more efficient companies. They can cut down on their surpluses and save money, as well as sell their surplus to gain back money they may have lost from initial investments. This additional revenue allows companies to invest that money back in the company and develop new products. Rheaply is providing a space and resources for businesses to do more with less things.

Social and environmental benefit

Cooper makes a point to be visible among the community, both in Chicago, on a national level, and within the business world. His appearances at conferences, on panels, and podcasts allows Cooper to create new connections and expand Rheaply’s impacts on a larger social level. He has connected with universities, schools, small startups, and corporate businesses and gives them all one platform to connect and share resources. As a business leader, Cooper values his community and bringing benefits to his company. Rheaply has offered its services to small, local businesses within the Chicago community for free in order to ensure they will have the same opportunities as corporate businesses. Fostering leadership and empowering through education are values that Cooper wholeheartedly believes in and tries to integrate into Rheaply and its mission as a business. He uses these values when working with companies but also when choosing people to hire. Cooper believes that working for Rheaply should give his employees the opportunity to take leadership roles and to continue educating themselves. Interns are given projects and research that will then make them experts on those subjects within the company and then they are given the space to share their knowledge.

Rheaply’s innovations and integration of the circular economy into their business model create environmental benefits, not only for them as a company but the companies they work with. Rheaply prides itself on being a sustainable and environmentally conscious company that makes strides towards creating a more environmentally conscious business world. Their relationship with other companies helps to educate other business owners on their waste production and teach them how to minimize waste. The result is not only waste reduction, but waste diversion. After a discussion with a potential client, Cooper realized waste diversion is a fundamental building block of Rheaply and decided to make the system more efficient. Now, Rheaply works to help companies get rid of their waste and make sure that waste is going to another company, where it will have use. Cooper is also working to shift the conversation away from “recycle, recycle, recycle” to “reuse.” This will not only create less waste overall, but also means less energy is being used in the overall production of products being used by companies. The innovations Rheaply has developed grants businesses the ability to easily incorporate sustainability into their business model and become environmentally conscious with little effort on their part.

Interview

Garry Cooper, CEO/President

Photo of interviewee

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Rheaply

Rheaply

Chicago, Illinois, US

Business Website: https://www.rheaply.com/

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Rheaply is an online asset management company that works to incorporate the circular economy into business models. They work with companies, universities, and schools to divert waste and share resources.