ethey group’s Founder and CEO Nick Spina believes Denovia Labs to be the silver bullet for plastic waste–and investors agree. Denovia’s first facility will launch in the fall as a world leader in the battle for sustainability. For ethey and Denovia, the war is just getting started. Plastic remanufacturing will never be the same.
For those not in the know, Denovia Labs is the brainchild of Istok Nahtigal, a physical organic chemist from Fanshawe College’s Centre for Research and Innovation. Nahtigal, who serves as the project’s Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, has discovered a solution that can disassemble plastic waste into the pure monomer that is used to create virgin plastic.
In Denovia’s process, there is no denigration–which in typical recycling and remanufacturing means that plastic can only be downcycled only a handful of times before it is unusable.
The ancient alchemists roll over in their graves–as there remains no universal panacea. But when it comes to the problem of plastic waste, Nahtigal and his team of researchers have the silver-bullet formula.
With the intricate chemistry locked down and patents secured, Denovia and ethey have been plotting the best course to scale this innovation–for the benefit of the planet and the creation of a global business.
There’s a lot of ground to cover, but these entrepreneurial and scientific innovators are ready for a war.
With murmurs suggesting that ethey is prepping the project’s first facility in London, Ontario, we reached out to the man at the helm, Nick Spina, for the full story.
We find Spina as a man on the move. He calls in from the ethey headquarters. We ask him how he’s doing.
“Same old,” he jokes, “fighting demons on the daily.”
Fighting demons is an understatement. Just last month, the United Nations reported that 400 million tons of plastic is being produced each year–with only 9% of that actually being recycled. An approximate 6.9 billion tons of primary plastic waste currently haunts the earth’s landfills, dumps, waste streams, and the natural environment.
It’s a problem both ecological and environmental. The beauty of Denovia and ethey’s solution is that it’s economic: a better business than the typical approach to plastic waste.
“It costs money to put plastic into a landfill,” Spina says, “but we can actually upcycle it and sell it. Any comparative processes globally are not as profitable as we are. It’s like swimming with the stream rather than against it.”
The model is simple. Municipal services, businesses, and other entities will be able to offload their plastic waste to Denovia, cutting the costs of both recycling and landfilling. The facility will turn this into monomer and create high grade Denovia plastic. This plastic will be sold to manufacturers–to the joy of their consumers who value sustainability.
Everyone wins–the exact recipe for a gangbusters business.
Denovia’s first partnership in this vein has been with Goodwill, who have over the years been overburdened by donated items that simply don’t sell. Denovia has helped them upcycle large quantities of clothing–which typically contain notable amounts of plastic.
“Our work with Goodwill has been great,” Spina reports. “We’re talking about opening up a facility inside theirs. No need for shipping, their waste only has to be carried into the next room.”
This just goes to show the leanness of Denovia’s process–as well as the simplicity of its operation. This will no doubt aid and abet upcoming plans to scale.
Building off this are two multibillion dollar partnerships, one of which is locked in and the other papering as this goes to press. Spina also tells us about an overwhelming amount of investment interest.
“Our seed round filled up within a week,” he says. “Series A isn’t supposed to be for three months, but people are trying to write checks now.”
Wondering if Denova is too good to be true, we started digging at the ethey CEO to discover what the catch is.
How expensive is the formula to produce?
“It’s expensive to know how to make it,” Spina says, “but the chemical ingredients aren’t. The liquid also works five times over before you have to put 20% new formula into it.”
Cost-effective, efficient, and accurate solutions to sorting waste remains a riddle for recycling plants. What’s the Denovia solution?
“We currently have a $15 million grant from the government going into AI and a number of other operating acts between us and our partners. Currently, there is a sorting system that uses AI to sort out the different plastics and detect what materials each object is made out of. We’re investing heavily in that and pushing our process forward.”
What would be the carbon footprint of a Denovia facility?
“We use less energy than the current method of recycling globally, which is head and mold.”
Make no mistake, Denovia is a sustainability monster–and it keeps plastic waste up at night.
If the end of the movie sees Denovia facilities worldwide and plastic waste knocked out for good, we’re currently living in ethey’s fast-moving training montage. With the first facility less than 90 days from opening in London, Ontario–and global interest boiling over on a corporate and scientific level, Spina, Nahtigal, and their team are sailing with the wind at their back.
“The old way of doing business,” Spina says, “has this attitude that says ‘it’s not my problem’ or ‘why should I pay to try and find a solution?’ That’s created an open opportunity for us to take over and lead this change on a massive scale.”
See this silver-bullet for yourself on Denovia Lab’s website.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.