New BIOtechnologiCaL approaches for biodegrading and promoting the environmEntal biotrAnsformation of syNthetic polymeric materials
September 1st, 2012 – August 31st, 2015
In BIOCLEAN, novel and robust microorganisms (aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, and fungi) able to extensively degrade polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymers and plastics will be isolated from actual-site aged plastic wastes obtained from several European marine and terrestrial sites, composting facilities and landfills, and obtained via tailored screenings from existing European collections of microbes. Robust enzymes able to fragment the target plastics with the production of valuable chemicals and building blocks will be obtained from the selected microbes and enzyme collections. Untreated and physically/chemically pre-treated PE, PS, PP and PVC polymers and plastics will be employed in such isolation/ screening activities, and an integrated methodology, relying on advanced analytical methods (determining plastics physicochemical changes and breakdown products resulting from biological attack), and tailored enzymatic, microbiological and ecotoxicological methods, will be adopted for the characterization of actual industrial relevance of the obtained microbes and enzymes.
Physical and chemical pretreatments improving biodegradability of target plastics will be identified and transferred on the pilot scale. The most promising microbial cultures and enzymes will be exploited in the development of pilot scale, slurry or solid-phase bioprocesses for the bioremediation and controlled depolymerization, respectively, of target pretreated plastics and in the set-up of tailored bioaugmentation protocols for enhancing plastic waste biodegradation in marine water systems, composting and anaerobic digester facilities. The processes developed will be assessed for their economic and environmental sustainability. Field scale validation of the most promising bioaugmentation protocols in a composting and a marine site and attempts to develop a plastic pollution reduction strategy for the Aegean Sea have been planned too.
University of Bologna (Italy)
UFZ (Germany), Institute of Marine Research (Norway), Technical Institute of Crete (Greece), Nanjing University (China), National Scientific Research Center (France), University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland), Center of Polymer and Carbon Materials (Poland), University of Ostrava (Czech Republic), International College Zittau (Germany), Madep (Switzerland), Plastics Europe (Belgium), Environmental Protection Engineering (Greece), Felsilab (Italy), Dedisa (Greece), MMB (Norway), Sima-Tec (Germany) and OWS (Belgium)
Bioremediation and bioaugmentation
Mr. Steven Verstichel