Scaling up e‑waste recycling through disruptive deep tech

The challenge

Whether it’s the nickel that’s used to make car batteries or the gold that’s contained within our mobile phones, metals are an essential component of many of the technologies that play a vital role in our everyday lives. 

High demand coupled with dwindling global supplies, means that the costs involved with sourcing these metals are increasing. The extraction of virgin metals also takes a significant environmental toll and impacts the health and safety of those who are tasked with mining them. 

That’s why attention is turning to e‑waste recycling as a way to close the loop on metal extraction and create a circular economy that transforms old electronics into raw material for new technologies. Currently, however, of the 50 million tonnes of e‑waste that are produced every year just 20% is formally recycled. What’s more, traditional recycling techniques, such as smelting, are also energy-intensive, toxic, and highly pollutive. 

But thanks to the support of CPI, DEScycle is set to transform the metals industry with clean technology that provides a low-impact solution to e‑waste. Advancing a new class of chemistry developed in the early 2000s at the University of Leicester, DEScycle turned to CPI to help take their ground-breaking technology from proof of principal to an economically viable process. Now DEScycle can move forward, tapping into a fast-growing e‑waste market that’s projected to reach $144 billion in value by 2028.

““The future for DEScycle is really exciting. DES truly has the potential to change the world, delivering a step-change in how we produce and recycle metals. By replacing energy and emission intensive processes with DEScycle’s novel technology we can supply the energy transition with low-impact low-carbon metal. Thanks to CPI’s investment and in-house experience, we will be able to rapidly commercialise this technology and bring real disruption to the metals market.”” 
Fred White
Fred White, Chief Commercial Officer – DEScycle 

How CPI helped

  • Evaluated DEScycle’s technology, identified process gaps, and developed them to allow a closed loop’ process which it demonstrated at a laboratory pilot scale. 
  • Investment from CPI Enterprises helped DEScycle to progress quickly through its development journey. 
  • Helped DEScycle engage potential investors, to demonstrate the process and lend further technical credibility to the technology. 
  • DEScycle has been able to access world-leading facilities and staff without building its own labs. 


  • Filled in and developed the missing process gaps’ and demonstrated at a large lab scale. 
  • Accelerated DEScycle’s journey toward commercialisation. 
  • Supported DEScycle with investors to help achieve their funding goals. 


DEScycle’s disruptive metal processing technology has created a circular solution for metal recovery and recycling. Using non-toxic solvents at low-temperature operations, the process can recover high-quality metals without creating a high carbon footprint. It’s a clean alternative to traditional high-impact recycling methods that haven’t been changed in more than a century. 

The relationship between DEScycle and CPI is a perfect example of how the organisation can support companies through their innovation journey. Through access to capital, through CPI Enterprises, as well as expertise and assets, CPI has played a crucial role in accelerating DEScycle’s journey toward commercialisation.

Not only will this help DEScycle to unlock the untapped e‑waste recycling market, but it will also help us to build a healthier, more sustainable society. By harnessing low-cost and environmentally safe technologies to produce secondary metals, DEScycle can help meet the demands of our growing economy while reducing carbon emissions. It’s a circular solution that retains and reuses metals rather than mining virgin stocks — a solution that’s good for people, places, and our planet. 

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