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Scaling up e-waste recycling with deep eutectic solvents


Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) is a disruptive metal recycling process that extracts valuable metals for re-use in industry.

Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES) – simply mixtures of salts without water – is the technology behind Descycle’s disruptive metal recycling process that extracts gold, nickel, copper and many other valuable metals that are in high demand, from e-waste such as phones, tablets and laptops. 

The novel and low-impact DES technology can dissolve up to 99 per cent of metals from e-waste, while leaving non-metals untouched. This allows for the extraction and recycling of metals far more efficiently and with far less environmental impact than traditional metal processing and smelting, which comes with a high carbon footprint and uses highly toxic chemicals such as cyanide. 

The global e-waste market is a large, addressable, and fast-growing market, valued at $63 billion and projected to reach $144 billion by 2028. CPI Enterprises is investing in Descycle alongside UK and US venture capital groups, as well as some of the leading global figures in the metals industry. 

Investment by CPI Enterprises builds on an existing relationship between Descycle and CPI, as the two organisations previously partnered on a collaborative R&D project.  

Through this investment, Descycle will leverage CPI’s formulation assets and expertise during its feasibility study, which will reduce capital expenditure, and support its growth and progress to the next phase of its innovation journey. 

“Descycle was an attractive investment opportunity: the company has a high calibre management team, and they have multiple touchpoints within the industry with access to a reliable feedstock,” said Peter Smith, investment manager, CPI Enterprises. “The innovative technology being developed is also well-aligned with CPI’s capabilities and mission. Our funding highlights CPI Enterprises’ confidence in the company’s performance and the growth of the industry as a whole.” 

 Kris Wadrop, general manager of commercial operations, CPI, said: “This is a perfect example of how CPI works with SMEs through their innovation journey. We began working with Descycle to improve their e-waste recycling process and with the success of that initial project, we’re continuing our journey together by supporting them with a feasibility study and scale-up of the DES process into a pilot plant.  

“I’m delighted CPI is able to extend the working relationship with Descycle by collaborating with the company to scale-up new technology that will create a circular economy option for metals in e-waste. It’s fantastic that the impact of this technology and Descycle’s high growth potential has also been recognised by CPI Enterprises with this investment.’’

Dr Leonidas Howden, CEO, Descycle said: “We are delighted to have received investment from CPI Enterprises and continue our relationship, which has been wholly successful thus far in achieving a number of key goals for both companies. CPI’s investment will greatly benefit Descycle by providing capital and access to their expertise and assets, which will accelerate our growth and journey to commercialisation. 

“The potential for DES is staggering. Whilst the current focus for Descycle is the recovery of metals from e-waste and recycling them back into the marketplace, there are potentially limitless applications of the technology elsewhere, including in the extraction of metals from ore. We are very excited for the future of Descycle and its prospective growth opportunities.” 

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