34. Descycle

As the world prepares for the green transition, Descycle is pitching its revolutionary chemical method as a way to recycle your metals, sustainably.

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Founder: Fred White, Leo Howden, Rob Harris, and John Murray

Year founded: 2018
Website: descycle.com

In order to transition to a greener economy, the world needs to push for a sevenfold increase in recycling metals. Yet existing processes are currently handicapped by energy-intensive and pollutive processes. 

To solve this paradox, Descycle is bringing a clean metal recovery technology to the market. Using a new class of chemistry known as Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES), the startup is targeting recycling e-waste, like computers and stereos. 

Descycle’s unique chemical process (patent-pending) allows for metal extraction at low temperatures and ambient pressures. It’s a win-win formula; the key metals needed for the green transition can be extracted, without the contamination typically created by other processes. 

Desycle’s journey has been paved with gold (literally). The founders dreamt up the idea after accidentally discovering that DES could dissolve gold during an archeology project at the University of London. This gold rush then opened up the possibility of using DES to extract other metals in the recycling and mining industries. 

So far, the startup’s technology has landed Descycle a number of partnerships and collaborations with key industry leaders, including its first e-waste joint venture partner, GAP Group NE Ltd. 

Proving its metal within the sector, the startup has also established an R&D partnership with the team of over 600 scientists and engineers behind the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a group of manufacturing research centres in the UK.

Descycle currently has £4.9m worth of pre-Series A investment in its pocket. It also has the backing of global leaders in the metals industry including the former CEO of Angle American and the former Head of Innovation at Rio Tinto.

Impressively, Descycle was also recently selected to be part of the Amazon Sustainability Accelerator. The three-month programme supports companies that are building technologies that have a positive impact on the environment. 

As demand for sustainable methods of metal extraction rises, Descycle is set to be the gold standard of e-waste recycling across the UK and the US. We can’t wait to watch it develop, as one of the most exciting UK startups for 2024.

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