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The Startup journey of Melvin in The Netherlands

Meet Melvin Kizito from Kenya, the founder and CEO of Alkyl Recycling, a groundbreaking diaper recycling company in the Netherlands. In this interview, Melvin shares his journey of spearheading sustainability in the diaper industry, unraveling the challenges of managing diaper waste globally, and the innovative solutions his company has developed to tackle them. As the leader of his sustainability startup, Melvin highlights the pivotal role the Netherlands plays in supporting Alkyl Recycling's growth through its commitment to sustainability, its access to vital knowledge in circular chemistry & and its access to governmental subsidies.

Portrait picture Melvin Kizito
Melvin Kizito

Growing a sustainability startup in the Netherlands

Alkyl Recycling is developing a new energy-efficient recycling process for absorbent hygiene products such as baby diapers. “Diapers are vital hygiene products that are used by everyone. Every day 250 million of them are used globally,” Melvin highlights. 

However, managing diaper waste is a worldwide problem. Waste diapers in many regions globally end up in open landfills where they decompose for over 500 years and emit greenhouse gasses, while some European countries dispose of them through non-resource efficient methods like incineration. 

“We developed a new process using sustainable chemistry to clean, sterilize, and extract useful materials from diaper waste,” Melvin describes. “From this waste, we extract high-quality plastics, cellulose, and super-absorbent polymers that can be used as secondary raw materials for new products.” 


The Netherlands as a leader in sustainability initiatives

Melvin had a positive experience when working with Dutch coaches at the EIT Climate-KIC accelerator in Kenya, giving him the impression that The Netherlands was a country that would support sustainability climate tech initiatives such as his. Since sustainability was a key priority for The Netherlands & the government support for sustainability initiatives was abundant, he decided to set up his business at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in the southern part of the province of Limburg.

“One key ecosystem is the Brightlands Chemelot Campus where our company is located. On this campus, we get access to chemical engineering expertise, business development, coaching, real estate, and access to a vast network of corporates, startups, venture capital, government, and policymakers. This whole array of resources is vital for the development of young startups in the sustainability field. This is the main reason why we saw the Netherlands as an ideal location for a climate technology startup,” says Melvin.  


Startup visa facilitators: From market validation to market access

Melvin had two facilitators - the Brightlands Chemelot Campus and YES!Delft. “The market validation class at YES!Delft helped us validate the need for our technology. Through this class, we learned that our technology was valid and there was demand for it in the market, both in the Netherlands and other European markets,” Melvin describes. "We selected the Brightlands Chemelot Campus because of their access to their vast expertise in technical & chemical engineering and business development & financing. They are also the circular chemistry hub of Europe, providing us access to all licenses, knowledge in chemical processing, and the markets for chemical products and recyclers that we produce.” 


Strong support for startups in Limburg

Limburg provided Melvin with access to the Chemelot Campus, a sustainable hub for sustainable chemistry and materials. “This has been a great region for setting up our company since we have close contact with the regional funding body of the province, LIOF, which provides subsidies to startups within the region,” Melvin highlights. "The strong supportive ecosystem for startups within circular chemistry made it an ideal place for the company’s growth trajectory."


Startup ecosystems in the Netherlands for circular ventures

Many startups in the Netherlands operate in sustainability, and it’s simple to interact with them through various events. “At these events, we can share how our journey has been so far,” Melvin expresses. The network of technical expertise in circular plastics, the circular economy, and sustainable chemistry helps the company understand what is needed and what is the future of the circular economy.

“More importantly, we attend many events, where startups, policymakers, stakeholders, corporates, and all other key players in the value chain meet & interact with each other.” 

From the heart of Kenya to the vibrant landscape of the Netherlands, Melvin's story underscores the urgency of addressing the environmental challenges posed by diaper waste. The recurring themes of sustainable chemistry, governmental support, and the strategic relocation to Limburg within the Brightlands Chemelot Campus highlight the importance of getting access to key resources at an early stage of building a sustainability startup.


Explore your options in the Netherlands

Learn more about the sustainable innovations sector, the Maastricht region and the NL Startup & Tech ecosystem in the Netherlands.