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New Recycling Process Uses Enzymes to Break Down Plastics by 70%

The Enzplast2 project from Spain’s AIMPLAS focuses on the use of enzymes in the plastics sector to develop more sustainable processes, including separating multilayer packaging and improving biodegradation.

Enzplast
AIMPLAS

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With the support of the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (IVACE), Spain’s AIMPLAS Technological Institute of Plastics is developing the Enzplast2 project with the aim to develop more sustainable processes for producing, recycling and composting plastics.   

Funded by IVACE and co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) through the Spanish Autonomous Community of Valencia ERDF operational program (2014-2020), the Enzplast project focused in its first year on new methods for the synthesis of plastics that are safer for human health and more environmentally friendly. In particular, enzymes were used instead of metal catalysts to obtain polyesters—providing benefits through reduced toxicity and lower energy consumption during the polymerization process.

In the second year of the project, under the name Enzplast2, a procedure is being developed to use microorganisms to eliminate odors from dairy packaging. Initial results indicate a reduction in the odor intensity of recycled dairy packaging. In addition, treating polyurethane-type polymers with selected isolated microorganisms has been shown to help degrade these polymers by as much as 70%.

Finally, studies have also been carried out in the second year on including polymer-supported enzymes in a molten polymer to improve the biodegradation of different bioplastics under aerobic and anaerobic digestion conditions.


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