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MIXed plastics biodegradation and UPcycling using microbial communities: EU Horizon 2020 project MIX-UP started January 2020

  • Ballerstedt, Hendrik1
  • Tiso, Till1
  • Wierckx, Nick2
  • Wei, Ren3
  • Averous, Luc4
  • Bornscheuer, Uwe3
  • O’Connor, Kevin5
  • Floehr, Tilman6
  • Jupke, Andreas1
  • Klankermayer, Jürgen1
  • Liu, Luo7
  • de Lorenzo, Victor8
  • Narancic, Tanja5
  • Nogales, Juan8
  • Perrin, Rémi9
  • Pollet, Eric4
  • Prieto, Auxiliadora8
  • Casey, William5
  • Haarmann, Thomas10
  • Sarbu, Alexandru9
  • And 8 more
  • 1 RWTH Aachen University,
  • 2 Research Center Jülich,
  • 3 University of Greifswald,
  • 4 Université de Strasbourg,
  • 5 University College Dublin,
  • 6 everwave GmbH, Strüverweg 116, 52070 Aachen, Germany
  • 7 Beijing University of Chemical Technology,
  • 8 Interdisciplinary Platform for Sustainable Plastics Towards a Circular Economy-Spanish National Research Council (SusPlast-CSIC), Biological Research Center (CIB-CSIC),
  • 9 SOPREMA, Direction R&D, 14 Rue Saint Nazaire, 67100 Strasbourg, France
  • 10 AB Enzymes GmbH, Feldbergstraße 78, 64293 Darmstadt, Germany
  • 11 Nanjing Tech University,
  • 12 Chinese Academy of Sciences,
  • 13 Tsinghua University,
Published Article
Environmental Sciences Europe
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Aug 21, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12302-021-00536-5
PMID: 34458054
PMCID: PMC8380104
PubMed Central
  • Discussion


This article introduces the EU Horizon 2020 research project MIX-UP, "Mixed plastics biodegradation and upcycling using microbial communities". The project focuses on changing the traditional linear value chain of plastics to a sustainable, biodegradable based one. Plastic mixtures contain five of the top six fossil-based recalcitrant plastics [polyethylene (PE), polyurethane (PUR), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS)], along with upcoming bioplastics polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and polylactate (PLA) will be used as feedstock for microbial transformations. Consecutive controlled enzymatic and microbial degradation of mechanically pre-treated plastics wastes combined with subsequent microbial conversion to polymers and value-added chemicals by mixed cultures. Known plastic-degrading enzymes will be optimised by integrated protein engineering to achieve high specific binding capacities, stability, and catalytic efficacy towards a broad spectrum of plastic polymers under high salt and temperature conditions. Another focus lies in the search and isolation of novel enzymes active on recalcitrant polymers. MIX-UP will formulate enzyme cocktails tailored to specific waste streams and strives to enhance enzyme production significantly. In vivo and in vitro application of these cocktails enable stable, self-sustaining microbiomes to convert the released plastic monomers selectively into value-added products, key building blocks, and biomass. Any remaining material recalcitrant to the enzymatic activities will be recirculated into the process by physicochemical treatment. The Chinese–European MIX-UP consortium is multidisciplinary and industry-participating to address the market need for novel sustainable routes to valorise plastic waste streams. The project's new workflow realises a circular (bio)plastic economy and adds value to present poorly recycled plastic wastes where mechanical and chemical plastic recycling show limits.

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