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Woolworths backs plastic food recycling startup with $54 million Series A raise

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Recycling startup Samsara Eco has raised $54 million in a Series A round to reduce plastic pollution.

Existing backers, including CSIRO’s deep tech fund Main Sequence, Woolworths Group’s W23 and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Innovation Fund, were involved. by new investors Breakthrough Victoria, Singapore’s Temasek, Assembly Climate Capital, DCVC and INP Capital on the rise.

The company aims to build its first plastic recycling facility in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU) before Christmas, pending full production over the next 12 months to process 20,000 tons of plastic by 2024. The goal is to recycle 1.5 million tons of plastic annually by 2030.

The capital will be used to grow the engineering team, develop Samsara’s library of plastic-eating enzymes and finance its first commercial plant.

Samsara – a Sanskrit word for “flow around”, referring to the continuous cycle of life and death – was launched last year after developing a new way to recycle infinitely using plastic-eating enzymes that break down plastic into its core molecules.

Founder and CEO Paul Riley said less than 10% of plastic waste is currently recycled and he hopes Samsara’s solution will help reduce the demand for fossil fuels to make new plastics.

“Plastic is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and is immensely useful because of its durability, flexibility and strength. Yet plastic is an environmental disaster, with nearly every piece of the 9 billion tons ever made on the planet,” he said.

“You can only solve the climate crisis if you solve the plastic crisis. Unlike other alternative recycling practices, our process is economical, with a low carbon footprint and allows for the effective recycling of challenging plastics, including colored, multi-layer or blended plastics and textiles. With our technology we already have enough plastic in the world and with our technology you never have to produce plastic from fossil fuels again.”

The company partnered with Woolworths Group to launch the first enzymatically recycled packaging to hit supermarket shelves next year.

W23 director Ingrid Maes said Samsara has found a new way to tackle a major challenge facing businesses worldwide.

“We are excited about the potential of Samsara and its ambitious plans, which have the power to positively disrupt the role of plastic in supermarkets and retail environments,” she said.

Ian Learmonth, CEO of CEFC, said the ability to recycle plastic indefinitely is an important option to tackle a major environmental problem.

“CEFC has now reaffirmed its commitment to support Samsara’s innovative technology, which is a welcome and necessary solution to the great challenge of plastic recycling, increasing recovery rates and reducing the volume of plastic that ends up in landfill,” he said. .

Riley said the scale of the problem is already huge and growing.

“Every minute of every day, the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic ends up in our oceans. By 2050, the amount of plastic in weight will exceed that of fish in the sea. We have had fantastic growth so far, but the plastic problem is growing faster,” he says.

“Access to this funding allows us to accelerate the possibilities of infinite recycling and scale our technology that breaks down plastics in minutes, not centuries.”

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