Business Insight

From Trash to Triumph: How This Startup Makes a $10 Billion Impact on Waste Management Business Across Asia?

Jinny Kim
May 29, 2024

ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)* is no longer merely a matter of doing good; it has emerged as a methodology for addressing the pressing issues facing our society

*ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance. These are the three key factors used to evaluate a company's sustainability and ethical impact. ESG criteria are important standards for investors to assess a company's long-term sustainability and ethical responsibilities.

While established corporations often struggle to swiftly seize business opportunities within ESG due to various stakeholder interests, startups harness the powerful spirit of "problem-solving" to tackle social issues and expand their businesses.

RecyGlo, a B2B tech startup founded in 2017, exemplifies this spirit by providing innovative waste management and data analytics solutions that help businesses reduce their environmental impact and comply with regulatory requirements.

(Source : Okka Phyo maung

In this interview, Okka Phyo maung, RecyGlo’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), soon to be the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), shares insights into their journey, the unique challenges they face in different markets, and their ambitious plans for global expansion.

💡 RecyGlo’s story offers valuable lessons on how embracing ESG can create significant business opportunities to startups. Join us as we delve into RecyGlo’s success and discover how they are leading the way in the waste management industry strategically and scalably.

2017: Discovering Business Opportunities in Waste

Q. Hello. First, could you introduce yourself to the readers of Asia Tomorrow?

Hio, I am Okka Phyo maung, the CFO and CMO at RecyGlo. Soon, I will also be taking on the role of CTO.

RecyGlo is a B2B tech startup that provides waste management and data analytics solutions to businesses. We offer comprehensive waste management services that help businesses minimize their environmental impact and comply with regulatory requirements. Our key services include:

  • Waste Audit and Assessment Services: Thoroughly analyzing a business's waste generation processes to identify areas where waste can be minimized or eliminated entirely.
  • Secure Shredding and Recycling Services: Safely handling, shredding, and recycling confidential documents and sensitive data.
  • Logistics Services: Providing on-demand waste collection services tailored to the unique needs of businesses, with flexible scheduling options to ensure prompt and efficient waste collection.
  • Food and Organic Waste Recycling: Helping businesses contribute to the circular economy by converting food and organic waste into organic fertilizer through advanced technology and infrastructure such as ESG software for reporting and compliance.

In addition, RecyGlo offers education, waste management, and ESG report generation to ensure our corporate clients align with the circular economy and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(Refer to : 10 ESG startups to spotlight in Asia

(Credit : RecyGlo)

Q. Before founding RecyGlo, you had a very diverse career. How did you come to start RecyGlo?

Before founding RecyGlo, a tech startup, I worked as an engineer, data analyst, and consultant at EY. I found that I thrived in circumstances where I could work freely and focus on results.

However, it seemed obvious that to make a greater impact and earn more than just being a competent employee, I needed to start my own business. I anticipated that by identifying business opportunities and growing rapidly within 2-3 years, I could gain significant assets. Additionally, as an entrepreneur, I assumed to get the advantage of working with and getting to know outstanding talents, even if the work is challenging.

So, in 2017-2018, I co-founded RecyGlo with Shwe Yamin Oo. At the time, startups were popping up everywhere. Plus, the ecosystem that supports startups and founders became paramount. I also wanted to take on the challenge of becoming a startup founder who builds services that the market needs.

We started RecyGlo in Singapore because we determined that it was a market where it was relatively easier to do fundraising among Southeast Asian countries. Singapore's location also made it convenient for global expansion into regions like Australia and India. Thanks to this, we now operate RecyGlo's business not only in Singapore but also in several other Asian countries.

Q. Why did you choose waste management as your business item?

Because aggregating the ESG-related market can create a bigger impact. 

We assumed that combining the market sizes from various countries will result in a value exceeding $10 billion. This is a considerable scale for a startup. Moreover, it's a blue ocean with few competitors. Therefore, RecyGlo, as a leading provider and market leader with expertise, has a strong chance of success.

In addition, it is a business that we are passionate about, and it can positively impact the community both socially and environmentally.

(Credit : RecyGlo)

Connecting Waste Management with ESG to Amplify Business Impact

Q. How is RecyGlo's business model structured?

Simply put, RecyGlo's business model is a monthly and annual subscription model.

We help corporate clients comply with ESG requirements. In addition to waste management, we provide auditing and reporting tools and support clients in obtaining certifications. Customers subscribe to our service regularly, which allows them to generate ESG reports more affordably than doing it themselves or hiring auditing professionals.

In some markets, RecyGlo also acts as an operator. We provide practical and actionable solutions like recycling, upcycling, and ESG educational tools through our platform. Additionally, we serve as an intermediary, connecting service providers with client businesses in these markets.

Q. Could you share the key metrics you consider important in your business?

We forecast our annual revenue for 2024 to be between $1 million and $2 million. As an early-stage startup, we are proud to have established solid revenue growth in the Asian market. We consistently achieve an annual revenue growth of $500,000 and expect to double our revenue this year.

The number of clients is also an important metric for us. There are two types of clients: one is government and private sector clients, and the other is impact clients (the end users affected by our work with governments and corporations). We work with over 100+ government and private sector clients, and our impact clients number between 2 million and 3 million.

(Credit : RecyGlo)

Q. How are the subscription fees, which form the basis of your revenue, determined?

Since we provide customized B2B solutions tailored to each market, the costs are negotiated based on specific circumstances. The fees range widely from $1,000 to $100,000 per month. In addition to this, we also offer consulting services. Although consulting tends to be one-time engagements with limited scalability, it still contributes to our overall revenue.

Q. How have you expanded your corporate client base and business partnerships?

Strategic partnerships in the B2B and B2G sectors are crucial because not only technology but also personal networks play a decisive role in business. So, RecyGlo takes an aggressive approach to attract corporate clients and business partners.

RecyGlo primarily secures ESG projects, including waste management and data analysis, from governments and corporations. This means we frequently communicate with various departments and officials at different levels of government. 

Through these networks, we gain referrals for new clients or engage in lobbying. We also enhance our competitiveness by offering lower service fees or better service proposals compared to competitors.

Q. Could you tell us about your competitors?

(Depending on the market) In Singapore, we have Blue Planet as a competitor, and in Indonesia, there is Waste4Change. There are also several small ESG regulatory companies in South Korea.

Compared to the EU or the US, the Asian market has fewer ESG-related service builders. Even in Japan, I guess this sector is just beginning to grow. There are not many companies like RecyGlo that offer comprehensive services such as waste management, data analysis, platform operation, business mediation, and ESG report provision. This is why we believe our decision to focus on the Asian market is valid.


(Credit : RecyGlo)

Targeting the Global Market with ESG Tech Solutions

Q. RecyGlo is currently at the pre-Series A investment stage. Given that this might be an unfamiliar field or business for VCs, how did you attract investment?

We emphasized RecyGlo's technological solution and our regional presence in various global markets.

In terms of technological aspect, we highlighted our digital platform that reduces manual interaction, allowing clients to use RecyGlo's services easily and quickly through our website.

Regarding our regional presence, we stressed that we provide customized services tailored to each region. Given our continuous activities in various parts of Asia, we can quickly adapt and incorporate any changes in ESG requirements into our reports and services.

In particular, RecyGlo is currently experiencing meaningful growth in the Australian market. This is because the ESG requirements are quite stringent in that region. We convinced investors that our ability to swiftly implement these requirements into our services presents a substantial opportunity in the waste management and data analytics market.

Q. In which countries is RecyGlo currently operating its business?

We have offices in Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Australia etc. In Indonesia, we operate on a project basis without a formal entity. In South Korea, we collaborate through a sister company, partnering to provide our services.

Q. You offer waste management solutions in a wide range of countries. Are there differences between these markets?

In countries like the United States, Japan, Germany, and South Korea, waste processing systems and technologies are well-developed. One common approach is for a large company to acquire smaller companies and take charge of waste management comprehensively.

However, this is not the case in emerging markets. Despite the large market size, waste management services are highly fragmented. As a result, companies in these markets struggle with waste and trash management and find it challenging to produce ESG-related reports. These tasks are very new and unfamiliar challenges for them.

RecyGlo provides solutions in these markets, helping companies comply with ESG regulations and produce necessary reports. Reviewing reports by market shows that the EU focuses more on environmental protection, the US on social value, and East Asian countries like Korea and Japan on service delivery. Therefore, we offer customized waste management and ESG solutions tailored to each market.

(Credit : RecyGlo)

Q. Managing an organization across multiple countries must be challenging too. What is the current status of your organization?

We have over 100 employees across Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. In countries where we only conduct sales, we typically have a country manager. In the Singapore headquarters and other established countries, we have heads of department, strategy, and operations, along with teams in sales, marketing, HR, finance, and other functions.

Q. How do you manage such a global organization?

Operating in various countries, we've noticed different hiring trends in each region.

For example, job seekers in South Korea prioritize stability and company brand, showing a strong tendency to minimize risk. Accordingly, when hiring in Korea, we focus on offering competitive salaries rather than stock options. In contrast, in Singapore, where job seekers tend to be more financially-savvy, offering stock options is considered an attractive employment condition.

Strategies for Rapid Global Growth as an ESG Tech Startup

Q. How does RecyGlo plan to enhance its presence in the global market? Do you have specific plans?

With the Australian market, we are keeping a close eye on the Middle East lately for fundraising purposes. By the end of 2024, our goal is to raise $5 million in funding to target this market actively.

Within the next 1-2 years, we aim to enter the European and North American markets as well. We want to compete alongside other global competitors in these significant markets. This indicates that our team is monitoring adjacent markets in Canada and Mexico, and considering potential entries into Germany and Luxembourg in Europe.

Initially, to drive financial growth and enhance our brand image, we plan to be connected with high-value clients, specifically targeting 'blue chip clients' while accelerating our global market expansion. In this vein, the next mission for RecyGlo would likely be to demonstrate our capability to handle larger scales, making a strong case to the market.

Q. How do you plan to enhance RecyGlo's ESG services into a more sophisticated product?

Our goal at the product level is to deliver top-quality utility to clients within the urgent sector of climate change. 

Specifically, as a B2B company, we plan to integrate artificial intelligence into our customer service. From waste categorization, recording, logistics, recycling, to the creation of ESG reports and handling corporate client interactions, we are willing to embed AI throughout the process. This evolution will allow us to offer a differentiated ESG solution platform.

Q. What are RecyGlo’s short-term and long-term goals?

In the short term, we are crazy about revenue growth. In order to intensely focus on it, achieving business growth in the Thai market is crucial. We are paying special attention to hiring and remote management in this country, looking forward to creating impactful changes with a passionate team.

Meanwhile, within the next 2-3 years, one of our next steps can be to consider an IPO in one of the countries where we operate, such as Singapore or the Middle East. We are also open to strategic mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as we seek to become a larger company.

In the long run, we aspire to be a leading company in the Asia-Pacific market. We are pursuing opportunities to build better products as a 'specialized service company' in more regions, ultimately intending to become a leader in the global ESG market.

Interview by May Jang

Written by Jinny Kim (underdogs)


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Jinny Kim
underdogs. Media Manager & EO STUDIO. Freelance Writer