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Investors back Swiss startup tackling the global plastic waste challenge 

Published: 6 July 2023

DePoly has raised CHF12.3m in a seed funding round to scale its chemical recycling process. Investors backing the company include Dutch impact investor Infinity Recycling.

Over 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, but less than 10% are recycled | Shredded polyethylene terephthalate (PET) samples | DePoly

DePoly, a Swiss startup which has developed a universal chemical recycling process that converts plastic waste into raw materials, has raised CHF12.3m (€12.6m) to scale its solution. 

The oversubscribed funding round, which was co-led by BASF Venture Capital and Wingman Ventures, also included Dutch impact investor Infinity Recycling, German personal-care company Beiersdorf, Swiss bank Zürcher Kantonalbank, and venture capital investors CIECH Ventures, Angel Invest and ACE & Company, among others. 

DePoly, which aims to establish a global network of recycling facilities, explained that plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be found in many everyday items but that the high cost and difficulty required for sorting, separating, and cleaning these complex plastic streams as well as the lack of globally scaled solutions meant that only a small proportion of materials are recycled.   

According to DePoly, over 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, but less than 10% are recycled, with the majority entering incineration centres or landfills around the world.  

DePoly’s technology converts all PET plastics and polyester textiles, originally sourced from fossil fuels, back into their main raw chemical components, which can then be sold back to the industry to make new virgin-quality plastic items. 

In response to questions from Impact Investor Jan Willem Muller, managing partner at Infinity Recycling, said that it had taken the world 40 years to recycle just 10% of plastic waste, which he attributed to the petrochemical industry and brand owners “working in silos along the plastic value chain”. 

“We need rapid change and disruption, particularly growth capital investment, to support the technologies entering the advanced recycling market. DePoly is one of these companies that tackle both packing and polyester fibre waste streams,” he added. 

DePoly is Infinity Recycling’s fourth portfolio holding in the Circular Plastics Fund, which launched at the start of last year to solve the ‘end-of-life’ waste crisis. The fund has raised €50m and hopes to reach its target of €150m at final close in Q4 of this year. 

Cutting-edge chemical recycling technology 

DePoly was launched in 2020 in Sion in southwestern Switzerland by three co-founders; Samantha Anderson, CEO, Bardiya Valizadeh, chief technology officer, and Christopher Ireland, chief security officer, who wanted to address the growing problem of plastic pollution, which Anderson said was growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5%.  

DePoly said its technology was able process PET and polyester streams that were typically turned down by the conventional recycling system, such as those containing mixed plastics, mixed colours, dirty plastic waste streams, as well as fabrics and fibres, and plans to extend its service offering beyond PET plastics to encompass all other types of plastic waste in the future. 

The company also claims that its technology is energy efficient, can be implemented quickly, and is easy to tailor to a customer’s specific needs.  

“By recycling pre-/post-consumer and post-industrial plastics that otherwise would be sent to incineration centres or be landfilled, we at DePoly aim to eliminate plastic waste and create a sustainable source of chemicals by diverting this waste from our environment and lowering our carbon footprint up to 65% at the same time,” said Anderson. “The raw materials produced match that of their fossil-fuel-based equivalents, meaning customers no longer have to choose between PET quality and its sustainability.” 

DePoly’s technology operates at room temperature and standard pressure and unlike most other currently available technologies, does not require any pre-washing, pre-sorting, pre-melting, or separating out of other plastics or materials.  

To showcase its technology to various industries such as post-consumer packaging and textiles, fashion, and post-industrial streams, DePoly has built a pilot plant that can process up to 50 tonnes a year of complex PET or polyester plastic streams.  

Responding to questions from Impact Investor, Anderson said that the recently closed seed round would empower the company “to scale the technology further, enabling the construction of a new showcase plant with a capacity of 500 tonnes per year to demonstrate the potential of our solution at a commercial scale”. 

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