Plastic recycling firm Archwey winds down; staff from Singapore headquarters let go and pursuing salary claims

The company has filed for voluntary liquidation and about 70 employees are affected globally, Eco-Business understands. Archwey launched a global head office in Singapore last July, declaring it would “rid the world of virgin plastic”.

Archwey CEO Sjoerd Fauser speaking at the launch of global headquarters in Singapore in July 2022.
Archwey CEO Sjoerd Fauser speaking at the launch of global headquarters in Singapore in July 2022. The company claims it made products from 100 per cent recycled ocean-bound plastic, marine plastic and post-consumer plastic collected from the world’s most polluted rivers. Image: Archwey

Archwey, an engineering group that makes alternatives to single-use plastic products and which just launched global headquarters in Singapore with much fanfare a year ago, has entered into voluntary liquidation. 

The company has closed in Singapore and has wound down operations in the Netherlands, where it was founded in 2015. Satellite operations in China, Australia, Vietnam, United States, United Kingdom and Spain have closed too, sources told Eco-Business. 

Around 70 employees are affected globally, Eco-Business understands.

Archwey launched its international headquarters in Singapore in July last year, pledging to “rid the world of virgin plastic” by making products made from plastic waste.

Its products are made from Bluewave, the brand name for a material marketed as made from ocean-bound plastic, marine plastic and post-consumer plastic sourced from the world’s most polluted rivers.

The firm’s customers have included jeans company Levi’s, sportswear apparel brand Under Armour and British luxury retailer Selfridges, according to the firm’s marketing materials. The company has struck partnerships with the likes of Singaporean renewables firm EDPR Sunseap to build floating solar panels using recycled plastic.

A recording obtained by Eco-Business indicates that the company’s chief executive, Sjoerd Fauser, had informed staff of the closure at Archwey’s Singapore office on 18 August. The firm closes with a number of staff owed salary and suppliers unpaid, according to documents seen by Eco-Business. 

In a social media post on Monday that has since been deleted, a former employee complained that staff will not be paid for the month of August. Another former employee told Eco-Business that salaries have repeatedly been delayed and expenses and contributions to Singapore’s mandatory saving plan, CPF, unpaid.

Some Singapore staff are pursuing salary claims through the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management, a service for resolving salary-related claims. 

Staff have been referred to the liquidator to settle outstanding wages and expenses.

Fauser has not responded to Eco-Business’ queries at the time of publication. 

Fauser, who was recognised on the Eco-Business A-List 2022, founded the business that later became Archwey in the Netherlands in 2015, supplying recycled plastic hangers to fashion retailers under the brand name Arch & Hook. The business has since spawned another subsidiary, Shieldler, to produce recycled plastic items for the healthcare sector. PlasticBean is the brand name for Archwey’s recycled plastic pellets used in manufacturing.

According to former staff, Archwey had a solid pipeline of projects with bluechip customers, including consumer brands Nike, Gucci, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, and petrochemicals giant Borealis.

A disagreement with the company’s investors was cited as a reason why the business folded by 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.

Lavish spending on operational expenses, such as plush offices in Singapore’s upmarket Raffles Place business district and the Herengracht district in Amsterdam, are among reasons cited by sources familiar with the business, for why it ran into financial difficulties. 

Archwey_opening Singapore HQ_Sjoerd Fauser

Archwey CEO Sjoerd Fauser (centre) at the opening of the firm’s global headquarters in Singapore last year. The event was attended by former ambassador of The Netherlands to Singapore Margriet Vonno (left) and then-Speaker of Singapore Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin (right).

The news of Archwey’s closure emerges two months after Fauser was named among executives who were granted a “VIP lane” for business contracts by the Dutch government to supply face masks, surgical gloves and other medical garments at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to a report by Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, Fauser, whose partner is a former senator and father is a renowed professor at Utrecht university, secured advance payment from the Dutch health ministry to import breathing apparatus and face masks.

Globally, recycling firms have been struggling amid falling virgin plastic prices. In Europe, recycling plants have been shut down while many others are selling recycled plastic at reduced rates in order to avoid stockpiling surplus stock, according to a report by industry journal Sustainable Plastics. In Asia, recycling firms similarly report strained financial flows amid sluggish demand for recycled material.

Correction: An earlier version of the story said that Archwey CEO had informed staff of the closure on 11 August. It should have been 18 August. The story has been edited. 

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