Archwey, a sustainable materials engineering group with headquarters in Singapore, is voluntarily winding up its operations, according to an article published today on Eco-Business.com. About 70 employees are affected globally, the article stated. The company, whose mission was to eliminate fossil-fuel based virgin plastics from the world, only opened its global headquarters in Singapore in July of last year. Eco-Business reported that a disagreement with the company’s investors was cited as a reason why the business folded by CEO Sjoerd Fauser in his speech to staff last Friday, sources say. Fauser, who is Archwey’s majority shareholder, also said it has been difficult to cut costs in a challenging economic environment.
The products produced by Archwey brands Arch & Hook - which started life in 2015 in Amsterdam as a manufacturer of upmarket, sustainable clothes hangers - and Shieldler, a start-up, likewise based in Amsterdam, producing packaging products from for the healthcare and nutraceutical industries, are made with recycled material. Archwey’s Plastic Bean business markets Archwey’s portfolio of Bluewave materials made from ocean-bound plastic, marine plastic and post-consumer plastic sourced from the world’s most polluted rivers. Archwey claims to have recycled 32,500 tonnes of marine post-consumer plastic waste in the last 18 months.
The current market for recycled materials is dismal. Recycled plastics prices are under severe pressure because of persistent weak demand, with sustainability considerations now apparently taking a back seat behind economic factors, all of which combine to create increasing pressure on the recycling industry.
In recent months, Fauser has also been in the spotlight for his dealings with the Dutch government during the pandemic. As a result of the shortages of personal protection equipment, the government was attempting to procure face masks, aprons and the like wherever it could. In June, Dutch newspaper Volkskrant broke the news that the Dutch Health ministry had created a ‘VIP lane’ for 239 bidders, out of some 3,600 offers to buy equipment. Many of those on the VIP list had little or no experience of importing medical equipment before the pandemic began, according to a report by Deloitte into the contracts.
Among them was Sjoerd Fauser, whose personal connections with the government allowed him to secure a €29.5 million advance payment from the health ministry to import breathing apparatus and a €17.5 million order for Chinese face masks.
However, when the Ministry discovered that Fauser was unable to supply the promised respirators, that he was unable to arrange the transport of the face masks and that, once the government had negotiated the transport, the masks were unfit for use, it requested Fauser to return the advance. According to the Volkskrant, only €8.7m was repaid.