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.
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.”