Bio Innovation of a Circular Economy for Plastics – BioICEP
Bio Innovation of a Circular Economy for Plastics (BioICEP) is a pan European-Chinese collaboration, consisting of 12 European and 3 Chinese partners, to tackle the burden of plastic waste in the environment. The grant worth €5 Million was awarded under the call H2020 topic CE-BIOTEC-05-2919 “Microorganism communities for plastics biodegradation” Research Innovation Action and started in January 2020 running for 4 years in total. The project is co-ordinated by Dr Margaret Brennan Fournet of Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS). Dr Paudie Murray, Dr Catherine Collins, Mariana Alves and Dr Sushanta Saha of Shannon ABC are involved in this project.
Global production and consumption of plastic has grown exponentially in recent decades. Since the 1950s, approximately 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced – 60% of which has ended up in landfill or the natural environment. Using an innovative triple action process, the BioICEP team will attempt to accelerate the degradation of traditional plastic and turn it into biopolymers, which can be used as natural biodegradable replacement plastics. The consortium brings together leading experts from industry and academia contributing a set of purpose-designed and ground-breaking technologies in order to achieve the following specific objectives:
1. Development of accelerated high-efficiency biodegradation incorporating microorganism communities expressing at least three novel and improved enzymatic activities enabling the degradation of mixtures of plastics
2. Sustainable degradation of at least 20% of mixed plastics
3. Bioprocessed high value bioproducts including equivalent bioplastics valorising mixed plastic waste
4. Sustainable prototype system plan, paving the way to bring the developed solution to the market, fulfilling current needs, future expectations, and delivering a seamless bio-innovative route for a circular economy for plastics
Catherine Collins and Mariana Alves are the key researchers working on this project at Shannon ABC and they will apply their biotechnology skills to mimic natural degradation and regeneration by microbes for the systematic bioconversion of plastic wastes into value added bio-plastics. They will screen existing and new fungal and algal biobanks at TUS for plastic degraders and bioplastic producers. Mechano-biochemical disintegration processes of plastic polymers aim to make waste plastics amenable to biodegradation. Also, plastics will be subjected to enzymatic attack to improve biodegradation rates. Another plan of attack to tackle the waste plastic will be to combine various individual biodegrading microorganisms to form consortia to biodegrade mixed plastic waste. The outputs from this degradation process will be used as building blocks for new polymers or other bioproducts to enable a new plastic waste-based circular economy. More details can be found at the project website https://www.bioicep.eu/index.php and you can also sign up on the project website for free to the BioICEP newsletter for the regular updates on the project.
For more information on the BioICEP project, please contact Dr Catherine Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org