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DePoly secures $13.8M to reshape plastic recycling

A picture of DePoly's co-founders, Christopher Ireland, Samantha Anderson, and Bardiya Valizadeh.
Image credit: DePoly

Switzerland-based DePoly has closed a $13.8 million seed round to scale its unique recycling technology. The round was led by BASF Venture Capital and Wingman Ventures, with Beiersdorf, Infinity Recycling, CIECH Ventures, Angel Invest among the other investors.

Launched in 2020 by co-founded Samantha Anderson, Bardiya Valizadeh and Christopher Ireland, DePoly uses a chemical process to recycle plastics. Despite the common misconception that plastic can be recycled, much goes to waste. Currently, only 10% of the 400 million tonnes of plastic produced annually is recycled.

The enormous environmental cost of plastic

While plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are common in daily life, their wide use creates problems for recycling. Used plastics need to be sorted, separated and cleaned before recycling, a process that cannot be avoided because even the most conscientious recycler may not know the difference between plastic types. The high costs involved mean that only ‘perfect’ plastics get recycled, and, even then, there tends to be a reduction in quality that limits its future use.

We know that plastic has a significant impact on the environment. Traditional disposal techniques include incineration, which results in pollution and carbon emissions, and landfill, which leaves plastics in the environment for hundreds of years, scientists are now regularly reporting the existence of micro-plastics in even the most extreme parts of the planet, and routinely identifying it within the food chain. But, despite knowing the negative impact plastic has, DePoly estimates the plastic market is growing by 5% every year.

DePoly’s solution aims to solve that problem by creating a simple and scalable method of recycling. Sarah Anderson, co-founder and CEO, said that the company aims “to eliminate plastic waste and create a sustainable source of chemicals by diverting this waste from our environment and lowering our carbon footprint by 65% at the same time.”

Its current technology successfully converts all PET plastics and polyester back to their raw components. These are then sold back to the industry to make new materials. And because they are, effectively, being made from the raw materials, the ‘recycled’ plastics do not suffer from the lower quality that hinders use of plastic recycled by traditional methods. The technique creates a circular plastic economy and could remove the dependence on fossil-fuel-based plastic manufacture.

DePoly’s transformative approach to plastic recycling

Based in Sion, DePoly’s technology is a unique approach to recycling. Working at room temperature and pressure, it can deal with plastics as they come, without the need for washing, sorting, separating or melting. And can take plastics that traditional methods would reject, such as mixed plastics or different colours. DePoly has already proven its technology at its pilot plant, which is currently processing 50 tonnes of plastic a year. They plan another showcase plant to recycle up to 500 tonnes a year.

Given the world’s apparently growing dependence on plastic, improving the efficiency of recycling is critical if we are to avoid the devastating impact plastic can have on the planet. Markus Solibieda, Managing Director at BASF Venture Capital, said, “DePoly’s technology offers a promising solution to address the global plastic waste challenge and concurrently support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related to the production of virgin plastics.”

DePoly’s vision is to redefine plastic recycling by creating a network of recycling facilities and expanding the scope beyond PET plastics, and having proven the viability with their pilot plant, will be using their funding to further demonstrate that we may no longer have to choose between the convenience of plastic and protecting the environment.

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