© Veridis

Veridis is the winner of the ING Circular Entrepreneurship Award 2021. With his startup, Nigel Visser wants to do nothing less than revolutionizing the recycling industry. One plastic is not like another. To really make plastic recycling a success, it is necessary to separate top-quality plastics from lower quality plastics. This is now possible thanks to Veridis. The tech startup has the answer that should make the world a bit more beautiful, according to ING in a press release. Veridis previously followed the HighTechXL deep-tech program in Eindhoven.

The problem: in the recycling of plastic, it is difficult to distinguish high-quality from low-quality material. Only high-quality plastic can be used to make something new again. “The analytical technique to measure the quality of plastic samples is just not developed far enough yet,” Visser explains. The result is that you can only recycle 15 percent of all plastic worldwide. The rest ends up in inferior applications. Or worse: the plastic is incinerated.

Another good read about recycling plastics: Frank H. Chen about his start-up Quinlyte

Visser knew one thing for sure while studying physics: he wanted to be able to do something that has a positive impact on the world. “What you can do in a lab is great fun, but it has to lead to something meaningful. If you then start looking at the biggest challenges facing humanity, you come to climate change and the disruption of ecosystems through human intervention. Those two come together with plastic and recycling.”

He got the idea to start working with a thermal measurement method to determine the quality of recycled plastic. That was still not easy. Fortunately, Visser soon received help from three fellow students: Floris Gerritsen, Wessel van der Woude, and Jeroen Glansdorp. “With today’s technology, you can analyze plastic samples from 1 to 20 milligrams. But for applications in the industry, we would have to be able to analyze samples 100,000 times larger. That was a bit of a shock,” says Visser.

The first breakthrough moment

They regularly locked themselves in the Demonstrator Lab, an incubation place where students and employees of Amsterdam universities and colleges can test their ideas for a business in a test setup. The first breakthrough was a measuring device that can analyze samples of 2 grams. Dimensions of the device: about the size of a microwave oven. “We are now working on a setup that takes up half of a desk. The final device will take up as much space as an entire desk and can analyze samples of half a kilogram. This again requires larger modules, but also more sensors and higher power.”

Another million and a half euros needed

The ING Circular Entrepreneurship Award 2021 provides Veridis with a sum of money and a lot of publicity and support from ING. That can help with the next challenges. For example, the development of the device requires investment. “Our biggest challenge is to get everything done financially,” Visser says. “We have a couple of grant applications running. Last year we received a grant from the Top Sector Energy. That allowed us to do a feasibility study. We are also in talks with national and international investment funds that focus on technology and sustainability. For now, we are looking for an amount of four to €500,000. The next round we need around 1.5 million euros.”

What will Veridis eventually make money from? Visser: “By selling the device to plastic recycling companies. They will be able to ask for a higher price for their materials because at the end of the process they can say with certainty: this is high-quality plastic. Now they don’t know that for sure and so they also have to supply the good material sometimes at a lower rate. Also, in various sectors, there are standards for the material that companies want to be delivered. In the automotive industry, you can think of the quality of recycled plastic in a dashboard. With our device, suppliers of recycled plastic can demonstrate that their raw materials meet the requirements of the buyer.”

More about recycling plastics: our stories about Ioniqa

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