Researchers take key step toward overcoming the 'plastic waste to bioplastic value' challenge

"Mixed plastics waste valorization through tandem chemical oxidation and biological funneling" - The bottle consortium led by Gregg Beckham publishes study on a new way to recycle plastic mixtures in the journal Science.

The research team from the U.S. has found a way to recycle three of the most important bulk plastics simultaneously, without prior separation.

Our MIX-UP coordinator Prof. Lars Blank comments: "The 'plastic waste to (bio)plastic value' challenge sees a new contribution towards becoming a reality. The bottle consortium coordinated by Gregg Beckham published a route for mixed PE, PP, PS plastic fractions to, e.g., the bioplastic PHA in Science today. The route taken is mirrored from the industrial implemented plant oils to bioplastic. The microbes require a carboxylic acid to efficiently convert the substrate, be it plant oils or plastic monomers to bioplastic. Kevin O´Connor showcased the difference in non-activated and activated PE fractions some 15 years ago and last year. It is exciting to see that the many topics MIX-UP is working on reach the highest journals, from plastic degradation to monomer conversion and product synthesis. Contributing to overcome the 'plastic waste to bioplastic value' challenge is higly rewarding."

More of Prof. Lars Blank reaction to this breakthrough publication also appears in the radio report streamed by Deutschlandfunk, in which the key aspects discussed in the study are highlighted.

Congratulations to Gregg Beckham and his colleagues to this outstanding work!

Click here to access the full article.

If you want to get deeper insight into this issue, consider joining Gregg Beckham's presentation "Developing New Chemical Recycling Approaches for Waste Plastics" on WEDNESDAY, October 19, 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Please register in advance for this meeting. Time conversion Link:


This talk will cover work from the DOE-funded BOTTLE Consortium, which focuses on recycling, upcycling, and redesign of plastics. Our work on enzymes for polyester depolymerization will be covered, specifically focusing on the discovery of new thermophilic enzymes from natural diversity, coupled to the innovations that have been predicted from process analysis and life cycle assessment. Additionally, this talk will highlight a new approach from the BOTTLE team that combines chemical catalysis and biological funneling towards the conversion of mixed plastics waste to a single, valuable product.

Bio: Gregg T. Beckham is a Senior Research Fellow and Group Leader at NREL. He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at MIT in 2007, and he currently leads and works with an interdisciplinary team of biologists, chemists, engineers, and material scientists at NREL in the areas of bioenergy and plastics upcycling. He currently leads the DOE-funded BOTTLE Consortium and is a co-PI in the DOE-funded Agile BioFoundry, the Bioprocessing Separations Consortium, and the Center for Bioenergy Innovation.