03. Apr 2015

Closing the loop: researchers make bioplastic from petro-based waste plastic

On April 1, 2015, the first RWTH-coordinated joint project will begin under Horizon 2020, the European Union's framework program for research and innovation.

The funding necessary for the project was raised by Prof. Lars Blank and Dr. Nick Wierckx at RWTH Aachen University's  Institute of Applied Microbiology, iAMB. They were supported by EU project manager Christine Kempchen in RWTH's Division of Research Funding.

nick wierckx rwthProject P4SB – an abbreviation for From Plastic waste to Plastic value using Pseudomonas putida Synthetic Biology – aims to transform plastic waste into bioplastic. Eleven partners – universities, research institutes, and industrial partners – from Germany, Spain, Ireland, the UK, and France, are involved in the project, which will run from April 2015 to March 2019 and has an entire volume of more than seven million Euros. Roughly 1.4 million Euros are reserved for RWTH alone.

With the help of concepts and methods from synthetic biology and through the use of the bacteria pseudomonas putida, oil-based plastic waste will be transformed into completely biologically composable material in Project P4SB. It will then be able to be used for the production of new products. Bioplastic made from oil-based plastic - the recycling chain is complete and closed.

P4SB is an answer to the widely-discussed debate about plastic as a natural resource and the associated environmental pollution. The project demonstrates that plastic does not equal plastic. The sustainable plastics of the second generation producted in the project are able to significantly reduce the detrimental environmental effects of plastic waste. Simultaneously, new markets arise based on plastic waste. This supports the European Union's recycling goals till 2020. (KL)

Image: Dr. Nick Wierckx


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