BGN Technologies, a business and technology company, and ECOIBÉRIA have recently inked a research collaboration agreement regarding recycling and degradation of plastic by bacteria.
The team of Profs. Ariel Kushmaro and Alex Sivan from the LEB (Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology) & Avram & Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, BGU have been researching plastic biodegradation. Their research studies have led to the discovery that various bacteria species can degrade polyethylene, which was regarded as a non-biodegradable plastic due to the polymer backbone chain’s highly stable C-C (carbon-carbon) bonds.
Based on these discoveries, the new research collaboration project will study the PET biodegradation by both previously identified and novel bacteria.
PET (polyethylene terephthalate) gains widespread adoption across various industries including textiles as well as food & beverage packaging. Due to its expanding production worldwide, immense efforts have been directed towards the reuse and recycling of this material.
As per the statement made by Prof. Kushmaro, plastic pollution has become a highly pressing environmental issue in modern society, thereby influencing organizations across the globe to focus on biodegradability and recyclability of plastics and reduce PET environmental impacts.
Existing technologies, despite their capability to impair polymers’ mechanical properties, come along with several disadvantages. The drawbacks include intensive waste sorting, high reaction temperatures, and the need for organic solvents. The research team is strategizing upon the degradation of PET into recyclable material by bacteria and its reuse in manufacturing new PET products to curb environmental pollution and drive the economy.
According to ECOIBÉRIA’s CEO, Jorge Lemos, the company’s mission is to ensure the sustainability of PET production and consumption models as well as aid the transition from the linear to the circular economy via transformation of PET waste into secondary raw materials. Mr. Lemos has expressed his strong belief that BGU’s innovations in the field of PET degradation by bacteria can complement ECOIBÉRIA’s technologies show potential towards becoming a key contributor to its plastic recycling efforts.