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The future of PET recycling comes from the canton of Valais

Monday 19 April 2021

As a result of major investments to promote innovation, the canton of Valais is attracting many promising start-ups. One of them, DePoly, intends to revolutionize PET recycling.

Representing an investment of CHF 409 million and inaugurated in 2020, the Innovation Park of the Energypolis campus in Sion is an innovation ecosystem bringing together the expertise of EPFL Valais Wallis, the HES-SO and The Ark Foundation.

Offering office space, facilities, scientific equipment and an access to a rich innovation ecosystem, the campus attracts many start-ups active in cleantech technologies. Among them, DePoly, founded by Canadian entrepreneur Samantha Anderson, has developed a new technology for recycling plastic.

DePoly' PET depolymerization process uses solvents to break down the chemical bonds present in PET into a liquid (ethylene glycol) and a powder (terephthalic acid), which can then be reused to reproduce plastic in the same form as it was originally.

According to the start-up, this process saves nearly 7,000 liters of oil per ton of PET produced, and reduces the energy required by two-thirds compared to the production of new PET.

An innovation ecosystem that rivals the country's largest cities

Located in the premises of the EPFL's Valais branch on the Energypolis campus, DePoly has benefited from an innovation ecosystem that is comparable to the ones found in the country's largest cities.

"After Zurich and Vaud, the canton of Valais now ranks third among the most advanced cantons in terms of innovation in clean technologies," says Eric Plan, Secretary General of the CleantechAlps initiative.

After securing a Tech Seed loan and raising CHF 1.3 million, DePoly hopes to inaugurate its first depolymerization plant within two years, which will be capable of processing nearly 10,000 tons of PET per year.

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