Technological watch

Novel Enzyme To Break Down And Recycle PET Bottles

Scientists at Carbios, France have developed a novel enzyme, which can biologically depolymerize all polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic waste, followed by an extremely efficient recycling into new bottles.

PET is used to manufacture bottles, polyester clothing fibers, food containers, and various thermoformed packaging and components. Carbios’
recycling process, the first of its kind, initiates a real transition to a circular economy.

Carbios and its academic partner, the Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI) have published an article in the prestigious journal "Nature"

The main recycling process for PET, via thermomechanical means, results in a loss of mechanical properties4. 

With a high ratio of aromatic terephthalate units—which reduce chain mobility—PET is a polyester that is extremely difficult to hydrolyse.

Carbios has developed an improved PET hydrolase that ultimately achieves, over 10 hours, a minimum of 90 per cent PET depolymerization into monomers.

This highly efficient, optimized enzyme outperforms all PET hydrolases reported so far. 

Recycled PET exhibiting the same properties as petrochemical PET can be produced from enzymatically depolymerized PET waste.

The process has potential to recycle PET from multilayer films

Publication date: 14/04/2020

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This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.