Portsmouth scientists tackle plastic waste

Tuesday June 11th, 2019

Portsmouth scientists awarded £5.8 million to help find new ways to recycle plastic waste.


Portsmouth University tackle plastic waste


University of Portsmouth scientists, who have engineered an enzyme that can break down some of the world’s most commonly polluting plastics, have been awarded £5.8 million to find new ways to recycle plastic.

The investment from the Research England Expanding Excellence Fund, coupled with significant investment by the University of Portsmouth, will speed up progress towards finding a solution to one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges – plastic waste.

In April 2018, researchers led by Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Gregg Beckham at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, announced they had engineered an enzyme which could digest polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, returning it to its original monomers, or building blocks.

PET plastic is commonly used to make the 20,000 single-use plastic bottles manufactured every second worldwide.  Their discovery could led to a opportunity to tackle some of our most polluting plastics in the world and identify how plastics could be recycled, re-used, and even made into higher value materials – a fundamental shift in recycling.


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