Scientists hail plastic-eating enzyme as 'breakthrough' for recycling

James Marshall
April 10, 2020

Today's conventional recycling for plastics is mainly thermo-mechanical, which is efficient for clear bottles and packaging, but it is unable to treat coloured, opaque, or multilayered plastic products to produce high quality recycled PET, and it is not a solution for the end-of-life of plastics, as, after several cycles, the material will degrade and end up incinerated or landfilled. Through a reaction similar to digestion, the enzymes break the polymers down into monomers - single-element particles which are then sent through a filtration and purification system.

The enyzme can break down PET plastic bottles into their individual chemical composites, which could later be reused to make brand new bottles.

French scientists have discovered a plastic-eating enzyme they claim could offer an innovative recycling solution for millions of tonnes of toxic plastic waste material, according to "breakthrough" new research funded by a clutch of consumer goods firms. It has partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L'Oréal to accelerate development.

Carbios said it aims to recycle on an industrial scale in the next five years. Independent experts call the new enzyme a huge advance. Waste bottles must be ground up and heated before the enzyme is added, so the recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, will be more expensive than virgin plastic. Carbios worked with the biotechnology company Novozymes to produce the new enzyme using fungi. It said the cost of the enzyme was just 4% of the cost of virgin plastic made from oil.

The team used the optimised enzyme to break down a tonne of waste plastic bottles, which were 90% degraded within 10 hours.

"We are the first company to bring this technology on the market", said Stephan.

He said a reduction in plastic use was one part of solving the waste problem. Increasing the collection of plastic waste was essential, Stephan stated, with concerning fifty percent of all plastic winding up in the environment or in land fill.

"It makes the possibility of true industrial-scale biological recycling of PET a possibility".

Scientists are additionally making progression in searching for organic means to damage down various other significant kinds ofplastic In March, German scientists exposed an insect that delight in hazardous polyurethane, while earlier job has actually revealed that wax moth larvae- typically reproduced as fish lure- can consume polythene bags.

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