In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.

At a glance

Founders: Rui Peng and Adam Ransfield

Business: Critical

Founded: 2018

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

We help architects, designers and property developers create beautiful and sustainable interior fit outs with the Critical Cleanstone, our range of 100% recycled plastic panels (1.2 by 2.4m, and standard trade thicknesses) that are customisable, durable and low carbon. At the end of life, we buy back our Cleanstone panels including offcuts to reprocess into new Cleanstone over and over again.

Every year Aotearoa imports over 400,000 tonnes of new plastics and we send to landfill up to 330,000 tonnes. 20% of New Zealand’s emissions is from the construction sector with building materials being the second source at 9%. Sustainability isn’t a buzzword. It’s expected from clients, many industry standards and awards require it, and the future of the industry depend on it. Architects and designers tell us it’s difficult to find a recycled material that inspires them – that looks beautiful, feels refined, and functions as well as its unsustainable counterparts.

That’s the challenge Critical’s Cleanstone is here to solve

Made in Aotearoa from 100% reclaimed NZ plastic waste, our panels come in a variety of pre-designed or custom colours and finishes, so architects and designers can realise their design vision and create a space that is truly unique.

We started Critical because we want to be good tīpuna (ancestors) for future generations so our tamariki (children) can prosper for thousands of years to come.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

I started out working with young people in my local area of Mt Roskill – an area with high youth unemployment and material depravity. My partner and I began an initiative trying to teach young people entrepreneurship through product design and 3D printing. As we did this, we learnt that we needed to scale up what we were doing to create more meaningful and sustainable jobs for these young people. And if we wanted to do this well, we needed to global enterprise, novel technology and products that solved a real gap in the market.

I was also working as an architect at the time and saw the rise of the Green Building Movement which meant policy changes and industry shift that would require buildings to be circular and sustainable. During that time I found it really difficult to find sustainable and low carbon materials that also looked beautiful while also durable.

This inspired Critical.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

  • Startmate Accelerator
  • NZTE
  • Poutama Trust
  • Callaghan Innovation


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