WE DREAM A WORLD FREE
FROM PLASTIC WASTE, AND YOU?

Meet our natural Enzymes Demetra and Ceres, that destroy Polyethylene within a few hours at room temperature.

BACKGROUND

Plastic accumulation is one of the environmental plagues of 21st century.

plastic-accumulation

Global plastic consumption has gone from 5.5 million tons in the 1950s to 110 million tons in 2009 (according to the United Nations Environmental Program). In 2019 global plastic production reached 368 million tonnes (plasticseurope.org), suggesting a trend towards increasing plastic material production. This is occurring despite the huge problem plastic pollution is causing to the environment, and despite the potential risks for human health.

Plastic colonizes and accumulates everywhere, on land and water.

plastic-accumulates

The oceans are proof of this big problem: huge patches of plastic debris have been forming in the oceans. One of the most notorious is the Great Pacific garbage patch. This is a vast area in the Pacific ocean, with a minimum estimated size comparable to the extension of Texas.

plastic-ocean

The consequences of accumulation of plastic debris, both on land and water, are detrimental for all type of life on the planet, gravely affecting the food chain and, ultimately, the welfare of the human beings.

Disposal of plastic

In 2019, global plastic production reached 368 million tonnes, heading towards a 400 per year in a very near future. Most of plastic waste ends up in the environment still today, despite the strong world-wide years-long campaigning for sensitization towards the plastic pollution issue. Globally, around 10% of global plastic is incinerated for energy recovery, a practice not really environmentally friendly, overall, and less than 10% is recycled. The rest is destined to landfill sites, where it may take years to decompose, leaking pollutants into soil and water.

Recycling was and still is the big promise for the future of plastic waste disposal, but we can hardly say that it is having any effects at all on the plastic pollution issue. On the contrary, we can say it is not really working. The actual methodology available so far is mechanical recycling, where only a few types of plastic can be recycled and only once or twice; the result is a second-rate material used to produce plastic again, which will end up in the environment, eventually.

Ecological and economical motivations pressure to find solution for reducing plastic waste disposal.

How can we get rid of plastic (other than via ecologically costly combustion)?

To answer to this question we need first to know the nature of the compound of interest.

 

Plastics are synthetic polymers. They are divided into two groups, based on the manufacturing process: i) thermoplastics and ii) thermoset plastics. While the latter represents only 8% of the total plastic, the real environmental problem stands with the remaining 92%, that is the thermoplastics.

Polyethylene (PE) is the most common thermoplastics (for example, PE is the plastic used for packaging, plastic bags) with approximately one third of the total plastic production globally.

PE is in general nonsusceptible to degradation by biological agents (e.g. bacteria and fungi), with a very limited extent of biodegradation by microorganisms, in a time-consuming process.

How can we solve the problem?

We have discovered a biological agent that can degrade PE of commonly used plastic bags in a really short time (less than 1 hour)

How does this happen?

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