Funding granted to develop bacterial recycling of plastics

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Polyurethane tubes

A study looking to develop bacterial recycling of plastics has been granted funding of £1.5 million.

The ERA – Cobiotech programme from the European Union has granted the funding to researchers from University of Surrey and their colleagues in Germany, Spain and France.

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Engineered microbial communities will be created to digest two types of polymers – polyethylene terephalate (PET) and polyurethane (PU). These will be transformed by the microbes into a bio-PU that can be used as a construction or insulation material.

University of Surrey senior lecturer in synthetic biology Dr Jose Jimenez said: “Moving away from the reliance on single use plastics is a positive step. However, the problem of how we deal with current plastic waste still needs to be addressed. Our project will investigate the ability of micro-organisms to digest plastic waste, turning it into a more environmentally friendly material that can be recycled.”

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