According to the WWF, more than 8 billion tons of plastics have been produced by humans worldwide. More than half of this mass has ended up in landfills or in the environment. The ecological damage is immense. The French start-up Carbios now relies on an enzyme to cope with the flood of plastics.
A ton of plastic waste decomposes in just 10 hours. An enzyme is said to be able to do this. The process is biological and comes from the forge of the French start-up Carbios. In classic recycling processes such as melting, the plastic quality is affected. This should not happen when the enzyme is used. Recycling becomes more effective and the plastic can then be reused for many purposes. Circular value creation is one of the most important issues of our time. The new process represents a transition to a circular economy.
The start-up company from Saint-Beauzire in France is supported by large corporations such as Pepsi and L’Oreal. This is directly noticeable on the stock market, as Carbios’ share price increased by 34%. Pepsi is involved in new recycling processes, since a large part of the plastic produced is released into the environment in the form of PET plastic bottles and other packaging.
Decompose PET into its components in record time
The chemical company is focusing on a new method with which polyethylene terephthalate, PET for short, can be decomposed and recycled at breakneck speed. This was reported in the scientific journal Nature. The French researchers were able to decompose one ton of plastic into 90 % of its components within 10 hours. Thanks to “green chemistry”, new high-quality plastic bottles could be processed. This new process has the potential to make recycling even more lucrative and faster.
How the enzyme from Carbios works
The enzyme developed by the researchers “digests” old plastic bottles in a few hours. It is a bacterial enzyme that converts old materials into the chemical building blocks for the production of new plastics. A demonstration plant is scheduled to go into operation near Lyon in 2021.
However, a transparent plastic must be available in order to be able to produce transparent bottles again, for example. “Material recycling, where plastic is washed, crushed and melted, is limited, says Martin Stephan, CEO of Carbios. “To use this technology to produce a transparent bottle, you need a transparent bottle as the starting material,” says Stephan. “And you can’t do that infinitely.”
To implement the successful new process, the researchers studied thousands of microorganisms at a landfill site and discovered some organisms that had developed enzymes. The observation went on to show that it breaks down PET plastic. Plastic made from PET is one of the most common types of plastic worldwide. Every year 70 million tons of it are produced. The natural process was slow at first, but the team from France introduced mutations that made the enzyme faster.
As early as 2016, Japanese scientists have discovered a bacterium that can grow on PET and even feed on it. However, the decomposition of the plastic by bacteria can only be optimised if the exact structure and mode of action of the two enzymes is known.
Current price of the Carbios share on 15.07.2020: 42.70 Euro – We expect the share to exceed 1.000 Euro in the long term! If the story is true!