The end of life of plastics,
a major environmental challenge
Today's plastics combine remarkable technical properties (lightness, durability, waterproofing, flexibility or rigidity, etc.) with low cost. Mostly derived from petrochemicals, these versatile materials are currently present in all segments of our lives (packaging, textiles, buildings, transport, agriculture, the medical field...) and have been a source of progress. However, the environmental consequences induced by several decades of intensive exploitation have led to a collective awareness of the need to produce and consume differently in order to guarantee future generations a sustainable and environmentally friendly society.
The wide use of these polymers and the fact that they often exist in mixtures makes them difficult to recycle. Today, plastic is mostly recycled by thermomechanical process. This process requires a drastic sorting upstream and does not allow to treat all the waste, and leads to a loss of properties; It is thus in reality an open loop, which does not solve the ultimate end of life of the waste.
Different bioremediation solutions considered: biological recycling process or innovative biodegradable materials.
The shocking figures of plastic pollution
- Geyer, R. Production, use, and fate of synthetic polymers. in Plastic Waste and Recycling 13–32 (Elsevier, 2020).
- Plasctics Europe. Plastics-the Facts 2020 An analysis of European plastics production, demand and waste data. (2020).
- BIOPLASTICS facts and figures. EUropeanBioplastics_Facts_and_figures2019. (2019).
(or the mass of 900,000 Eiffel Towers or 88 million blue whales)
TBI, involved in the plastic challenge
Development of an efficient enzyme for PET depolymerization by enzymatic engineering
- Development of an efficient enzyme for PET depolymerization by enzymatic engineering
- Thanaplast Project 2012-2017 (BPI France) and Circular Economy PET Project 2018-2021 (Ademe);
- More than 10 patents filed
- An article in Nature: Tournier, V. et al. An engineered PET depolymerase to break down and recycle plastic bottles. Nature 580, 216–219 (2020).