Department of Ecology News Release - December 6, 2023

Washington’s sustainable business accelerator seeks next round of projects

NextCycle Washington provides consulting and technical support to help businesses expand recycling, waste reduction, reuse, and organics


NextCycle Washington launched last year with a mission to help businesses seeking to reduce waste, improve recycling, or find ways to reuse or remanufacture waste materials. In its first year, the program supported 14 accelerator teams, provided 41 seed grants, and helped raise $13.5 million in investor funds. It also led to 70 new jobs and helped divert 4 million pounds of material away from the landfill. 

Now, NextCycle is seeking entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and small businesses for the second group in its Circular Accelerator Program. The “accelerator program” is an approach that aims to eliminate waste whenever possible – recycling and reusing materials over and over again. 

Applicants selected for the NextCycle Washington accelerator will participate in a six-month program (March 2024 – Sept. 2024) where they attend a two-day Accelerator Academy, receive one-on-one consulting and technical support to develop their business plan, and refine their project pitch. The program culminates with teams sharing their work and competing for monetary awards during a Pitch Showcase. 

"The saying goes that one person’s trash is another’s treasure,” said Peter Lyon, Solid Waste Management program manager for the Washington Department of Ecology, NextCycle Washington’s sponsor. “With this unique program, we’re proving that there are real business opportunities here in Washington that deliver on that promise. And we’re helping those great ideas get off the ground and grow.”

The NextCycle Washington application period is open through Jan. 26, 2024. The program is seeking projects in two areas: 

  • Upstream projects: businesses and projects that prevent waste or improve and expand reuse and repair of materials. 
  • Downstream projects: businesses and projects that improve, innovate, or expand material and organic recycling, recovery and end uses. 

NextCycle Washington welcomes applications from businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, nonprofits, community-based organizations, and Tribal governments that have project ideas with the potential to contribute towards zero waste, greenhouse gas reduction, and equitable outcomes. 

Earlier this year, the Refugee Artisan Initiative won both the Upstream and People’s Choice awards for keeping retired fire hoses from the US Forest Service out of landfills by repurposing them into marketable products. In addition to funding the organization’s project, the $11,750 prize also helps create jobs for refugee women.

The Accelerator Program includes a diverse group of external subject matter experts and people with lived experience from industry, local governments, and communities who provide oversight and guidance to the NextCycle Washington program. Together, they strive to include organizations that serve historically excluded communities and by lowering barriers, sharing power, utilizing accessible communication formats, and strengthening networks.

NextCycle Washington will host two virtual meetings to answer questions about the program, eligible projects, and application requirements: 

NextCycle Washington is an initiative of the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Washington Recycling Development Center, with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program is facilitated by RRS, Cascadia Consulting Group, Traversal, and Start Consulting. Special thanks go out to King County, Seattle Public Utilities, and the Washington State Department of Commerce for collaborating on the inaugural cohort in 2022-2023.

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Contact information

Dave Bennett
Ecology Communications
Twitter: ecologywa