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BIOTEK2021-Bioteknologi for verdiskaping

KSP: Unlocking the potential of enzymatic recycling of plastics

Alternative title: Utvikling og vurdering av metoder og strategier for enzymatisk resirkulering av plast

Awarded: NOK 30.0 mill.

Plastics represent both a fantastic resource, but also a large challenge for society. On one hand, modern society cannot live without plastic products. On the other hand, its production from non-renewable resources is not sustainable and a large amount of plastic ends up polluting the environment every year. The only way to achieve sustainability for plastics is to develop technology for efficient and environmentally friendly recycling. In the current project we aim to develop new biotechnology that will allow enzymatic degradation of plastics that currently cannot be recycled biochemically, like polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate. This will be achieved by learning from nature, as there are both bacteria and insects that can digest these plastics. We will also transform enzymes that degrade materials that look like plastic (e.g. cellulose) to enzymes that degrade our plastic of choice. This will be done using technology called enzyme engineering. In addition to finding and developing new plastic degrading enzyme we will make new types of plastics that maintain their usability, but that are easy to degrade by the enzymes we develop. The combination of these strategies will accelerate the introduction of enzymatic recycling of plastic in society. To obtain a better fundament for understanding the roles and opportunities of enzymatic plastic recycling in society we will also perform sustainability assessments and barrier analyses. The sustainability assessment will determine whether the existing technologies and methods developed in the project can be implemented in an economically, socially and environmentally feasible way. The barrier analysis will help us identify the most important challenges in society that can hinder efficient implementation of the new technology and solutions of how to overcome these challenges.

Plastics represent both a fantastic resource, but also a large challenge for society. On one hand, modern society cannot live without plastic products. On the other hand, its production from non-renewable resources is not sustainable and a large amount of plastic ends up polluting the environment every year. The only way to achieve sustainability for plastics is to develop technology for efficient and environmentally friendly recycling. In the proposed interdisciplinary project we aim to develop new biotechnology that will allow enzymatic degradation of non-hydrolysable plastics like polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate. Plastic degrading enzymes will be identified and developed by using state-of-the-art (meta)genomics and -proteomics techniques to explore the enzymatic machineries of plastic degrading microorganisms and insects (more specifically, the greater wax moth). We will also screen and re-design powerful oxidative enzymes that naturally target recalcitrant and crystalline surface of biopolymers, to target plastic polymers. Hand in hand with enzyme development, we will engineer new and/or modified plastic polymers that are tailored for enzymatic degradation, but that still keep their functional properties. Importantly, methods for extraction, purification and reuse of the plastic degradation products will be developed in order to assess the recyclability of the degradation reaction end-products . Since the perspective of enzymatic recycling of plastics is relatively new to both academia and the plastics sector, we will also establish dialogues with, and among, stakeholders and policy makers to assess technological opportunities and discuss and guide future directions both in terms of R&D efforts and political measures. To obtain a better fundament for understanding the roles and opportunities of enzymatic plastic recycling in society we will also perform sustainability assessments and barrier analyses.

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BIOTEK2021-Bioteknologi for verdiskaping

Thematic Areas and Topics

Portefølje Industri og tjenestenæringerLTP2 Muliggjørende og industrielle teknologierLTP2 Nano-, bioteknologi og teknologikonvergensLTP2 Miljøvennlig energi og lavutslippsløsningerLTP2 Utvikle fagmiljøer av fremragende kvalitetFNs BærekraftsmålMål 11 Bærekraftig byer og samfunnResponsible Research & InnovationInternasjonaliseringInternasjonalt prosjektsamarbeidLTP2 Fagmiljøer og talenterDelportefølje Klima og miljøInternasjonaliseringFNs BærekraftsmålPolitikk- og forvaltningsområderBioøkonomiØvrig bioøkonomiPortefølje Landbasert mat, miljø og bioressurserPortefølje Energi, transport og lavutslippBransjer og næringerMiljø og naturmangfoldSirkulær økonomiPolitikk- og forvaltningsområderMiljø, klima og naturforvaltningBioteknologiIndustriell bioteknologiLTP2 Et kunnskapsintensivt næringsliv i hele landetPortefølje Naturvitenskap og teknologiLTP2 Klima, miljø og miljøvennlig energiUtviklingsarbeidSirkulær økonomiBioteknologiBioøkonomiSektorovergripende bioøkonomiMiljø og naturmangfoldMiljø og naturmangfoldGlobale miljøutfordringerLavutslippPortefølje Muliggjørende teknologierPortefølje LivsvitenskapBransjer og næringerProsess- og foredlingsindustriBransjer og næringerMiljø - NæringsområdeAnvendt forskningLTP2 Bioøkonomi og forvaltningDelportefølje Sirkulær økonomiGrunnforskningBioøkonomiPortefølje Humaniora og samfunnsvitenskapMiljø og naturmangfoldTerrestrisk forurensning inkl. miljøgifterLTP2 Klima, polar og miljøLTP2 Styrket konkurransekraft og innovasjonsevneResponsible Research & InnovationRRI Medvirkning