Recycling startup Samsara Eco has raised $6 million as it progresses towards a planned pilot plant later this year and full-scale production in 2023.
Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) joins existing investors including W3 — Woolworths Group’s venture capital arm — and Main Sequence, the “venture science” fund founded by CSIRO.
Samsara launched last year to commercialise an “enzymatic depolymerisation” approach, breaking down plastic into its component parts, monomers, which could then be reused. The technique is initially targeting PET materials while the company develops a “library” of other enzymes to process other plastic families.
(An interview with founder and CEO Paul Riley last October in @AuManufacturing, describing the invention and the global trend of enzymatic plastic recycling, can be viewed here.)
The raise builds on a grant last year through the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre’s (AMGC) Commercialisation Fund, and a recent partnership with Tennis Australia to recycle 5,000 plastic bottles collected at the Australian Open.
Riley said current approaches to plastic recycling were inefficient and ill-equipped to handle the plastic pollution crisis, and a new approach was needed.
“Instead of mining for fossil fuels to create new plastics or relying on current recycling methods which result in only nine percent being actually recycled, we can take plastic that already exists and infinitely recycle it,” said Riley in a statement on Thursday.
“And unlike other alternate recycling practices, our process is performed at room temperature, and is truly carbon neutral so it’s all-round better for the environment — we’re not just solving a critical waste problem, we’re doing it in a sustainable way.”
“Our long term vision is to extend our technology capabilities to infinitely recycle other oil-derived plastic products like clothes made from polyester and nylon so we never use fossil fuels to create new plastic again.”
The raise will helps Samsara prepare to build its recycling plant, slated for later this year, along with growing its local team of scientists and researchers developing the technology.
Main picture: Samsara
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