"Working Together Is Success": Kick-Off-meeting In Brussels

| By Leon Kirschgens & Jacqueline Plaster
Left: EU-partners - Right on the screen: Chinese partners

It's time! MIX-UP starts the four-year research project with great enthusiasm. Behind us are three intensive days of getting to know each other in Brussels.

Coming together is a beginning,

Keeping together is progress,

Working together is success

Henry Ford

With these words project coordinator Prof. Lars Blank started our joint project MIX-UP on the 5th February 2020 at our KickOff meeting in Brussels.

With scientists from all over the world, we are working together on finding solutions to our plastic crisis – by using bacteria. After all, these little helpers can do more than just cause disease: Some of them are able to use the basic building blocks of plastic for their metabolism. Our goal is not only to break down the basic building blocks of plastic, but also to produce new products, such as bioplastics. The consortium consists of 14 partners from Germany, Spain, Ireland, France and China - together we are a strong team fighting the plastic flood.

It was in autumn 2019 when we received the great news that our application was accepted by the EU. We will now receive funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

During the Kick-Off Meeting, we could meet each other and discuss our future collaboration. In one point we all fully agree: „We will find a solution by working together” – and that is exactly what we want to achieve. Together we are strong to find solutions. The value of plastic waste as a resource is thus to be expanded and the recycling economy strengthened. Plastics are no longer just waste, but a valuable resource that can be converted back into sustainable, value-added materials. But this is not everything: we want to spread awareness to topics like climate change, plastic pollution and resource management. We want to spread motivation to combine sustainability in everyday life. And we want to show the world that scientists all over the world are working together to find solutions to the current plastic crisis.

Most of the partners already know each other and were already involved in the previous project P4SB and other collaborative projects. P4SB was about recycling PET and PU with the help of a single bacterium. But in addition to PET and PU, there are many other types of plastic - and they are all spread in our environment. Within MIX-UP, the general ground breaking goal is to recycle unsorted, mixed plastic waste with different strains of bacteria, and not just one, into sustainable biomaterials and valuable products. Since working together is always a success and the same goes for bacteria.

Our Chinese partners participated untiringly via video transmission - the corona virus didn’t stop us! We had a successful first Kick-Off event via webcam, where many important decisions have already been made and a first exchange took place. You can follow our joint work in the future on our blog. In the next months we will introduce all partners and their participation in the project.

We are all looking forward to the future cooperation and see MIX-UP as a chance to solve the plastic crisis together!