China Is in the Front Line in the Fight Against Plastic Waste

| By Leon Kirschgens & Jacqueline Plaster
The entrance to the Tsinghua University.

Another Chinese MIX-UP partner is one of the most renowned universities in the world. The tasks of the research team are manifold.

Most people have probably heard of Tsinghua University - no wonder, a glance at the ranking list of the top universities shows that the renowned university is ranked 15th worldwide. Decades of top-level research have brought the university to this position - also in the field of biotechnology.

It is therefore all the more gratifying to welcome the research team around Professors Qiong Wuals, George Guo-Qiang Chen and Fuqing Wu as part of the consortium. Their team consists of ten members, including several doctoral students. The researchers will develop a separation system that will sort plastic degradation parts as efficiently as possible.

At the same time, they are working on the optimisation of microbial metabolic pathways. The resulting microorganisms will be able to use plastic degradation products as substrates or precursors for the synthesis of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) with high added value. They belong to the group of environmentally friendly polyesters that are also suitable for use as medical implants or functional materials - an area in which a particularly large amount of plastic is used, which is usually indispensable for hygienic reasons.

The successful implementation of this project will open up a scientific route for converting plastic waste into products with high added value, promote the recycling of plastic products and thus make a scientific and technological contribution to improving ecology and the environment, say the Chinese scientists - which in turn will help to conserve natural resources such as oil and gas.