Microbial integration of plastics in the circular economy (MIPLACE)


Imperial College London

South Kensington Campus
London SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom


    This project aims at turning PET plastic waste into novel bio-polymers using microbial communities. MIPLACE will deliver a complete pipeline for the transformation of waste into Bio-PU. Our approach is based on the design-build-test cycle that is common in engineering disciplines. We will use a combination of environmental screening of microorganisms and the understanding of microbial communities and their interactions. We will tailor microbe strains and communities for polymer degradation and monomer production using synthetic biology techniques and a biotechnological approach for the chemical synthesis of Bio-PU.


    • To improve the degradation of PET and PU by obtaining bacterial strains that can produce hydrolytic enzymes, either from environmental screenings or lab-directed evolution.
    • To engineer artificial microbial communities for the transformation of PET and PU polymers into monomers required for Bio-PU synthesis.
    • To achieve the chemical synthesis of Bio-PU using the monomers produced by microbial activity.



    • Tackling plastic waste accumulation: 79% of all plastic waste is stored in landfills or released into the environment, with devastating effects. MIPLACE will contribute to ease this pollution emergency.
    • Updating plastic recycling procedures: MIPLACE will deliver a novel platform to use recalcitrant plastics as feedstock for microbes, paving the way for use with other types of plastic.
    • Supporting a sustainable bio-based economy: There is an economic incentive to increase end-of-life plastic collection, thanks to the wide range of industrial applications of the monomers.


    This project is co-funded by the ERA - Cobiotech programme of the European Union.

    Dr José Jiménez

    Senior Lecturer in Synthetic Biology


    Dr Jose Jiménez is a molecular biologist that earned his Ph.D. in environmental microbiology in 2006 working for Spanish Research Council (CIB-CSIC). After that he moved into systems and synthetic biology of bacteria in postdoctoral stays in the National Center for Biotechnology (CSIC; Spain), Harvard University (USA) as a Fellow for the Foundational Questions in Evolutionary Biology program and the Synthetic Biology Center at MIT (USA). Jose was appointed as Lecturer in Synthetic Biology in 2014 at the University of Surrey and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2018. In 2020 he moved to the Dpt. of Life Sciences at Imperial College London