Temasek, Main Sequence back enzymatic recycling tech startup Samsara Eco in $65M

Tolani Alvita
7 Min Read

As consumers increasingly demand environmentally friendly and sustainable products, companies strive to seek alternative solutions, which creates a market ripe for growth for some environmental tech companies’ offerings.

One example is Samsara Eco, an Australia-based startup that makes and sells fossil-free polymer resins to its customers. These resins can be integrated into supply chains and replace plastic packaging and textile products with more sustainable alternatives.

Samsara made a significant stride on Wednesday, securing an additional $65 million in all equity, equivalent to AUD $100 million, in a funding round co-led by Temasek and Main Sequence, an Australian deep tech investment fund. This investment, which also saw the participation of new and existing backers, including DCVC, Hitachi Venture, Lululemon, Titanium Ventures, and Wollemi Capital, brings Samsara’s total raised to $ 73 million (AUD $ 164 million) since its inception in 2020.

A lot has changed since its last raise in 2022, CEO and founder of Samsara Paul Riley told TechCrunch. “We’ve continued to build out our library of enzymes and now have the ability to recycle the notoriously difficult nylon 6,6 along with polyester and nylon 6,” Riley said. “We formed a partnership with Lululemon and saw our first product [made from enzymatically recycled polyester] launch in the market earlier this year.” (Nylon 6-6, also known as Nylon 66, is a synthetic polymer commonly used in the textile and plastic industries.)

Samsara is building its facilities in Jerrabomberra, New South Wales, currently underway, to provide services to potential clients, such as global brands, to partner, test, and create with Samsara Eco, Riley said. In addition, the outfit has ambitious plans to expand its team in North America and secure a site for its first North American commercial facility. The new capital will also be used for its commercial facilities to be built in Southeast Asia in the next few years, where many manufacturing brands base their operations in Southeast Asia. “Creating pathways to broader commercialization on a global scale is our focus,” Riley told TechCrunch.

Samsara’s partnership with Lululemon represents its first textile partner.

“With the [Lululemon’s] products, we’ve made major progress for the future of sustainable fashion and circularity and have done so with a lower carbon footprint,” Riley said. “That’s what makes our process unique; we not only deliver on circularity but also carbon. The ability to recycle nylon 6,6 and polyester shows the potential to give clothes an infinite life and with it, ensure they never end up in landfills again.”

The 4-year-old startup says it is seeing strong demand from the apparel and consumer packaged goods industry. Its technology is applicable to other sectors, Riley said, adding that it plans to enter the automotive and electronics sectors next.

The outfit started in 2020 in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), Woolworths, an Australian supermarket and grocery store, and Main Sequence Ventures to develop a biological catalyst (enzyme) to create a new approach to recycling. Since then, Samsara has been focusing on scaling its family of enzymes for plastic recycling.

This approach will allow people to divert plastic from landfills and oceans, according to the company.

“The issue around conventional plastic recycling is that the plastic degrades over time, or it ends up being converted into other products that don’t depend on the structural integrity of its original form,” Riley said. “For example, when you see clothes with a recycled tag on them, most of the time you see a product made from recycled packaging, like plastic bottles. It’s not recycling, it’s delayed landfill.” 

Some alternate recycling approaches, like chemical recycling, are also bad for the environment, according to the CEO. While they can recycle plastics, the process is often carbon-intensive, using heat and leaching chemicals, which is potentially worse than creating plastics from fossil fuels, he explained.

Samsar’s patent recycling technology: EosEco™

What sets Samsara’s patented recycling technology EosEco™ apart from conventional recycling is its ability to reduce the end-to-end recycling time. Operating at a lower temperature and pressure, it significantly cuts down on energy, heat, and carbon emissions, achieving a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) well below the carbon footprint of fossil fuel-derived virgin plastics.

“We’re also well ahead in terms of our ability to recycle a range of plastics, including mixed and coloured polymers… We are continuing to build out our enzyme library to recycle more plastics at scale in the future,” Riley said. “If we get it right, our technology will be used to recycle 1.5 million tonnes of plastic per annum by 2030, saving millions of tonnes of carbon entering our planet.”

The latest capital, Series A+ funding, brings Samsara’s total raised to $73 million (AUD $164 million) since its inception in 2020. The announcement comes roughly one and a half years after the startup raised its Series A, AUD $54 million, about $34.7 million in USD. Samsara did not provide its valuation.

The outfit has a team of 60 staff across Australia and North America, with plans to expand the team in North America and Singapore to 90 by the end of 2025.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *