- French company Carbios has announced a technology that it says will make it possible to recycle PET (polyethylene terephthalate) — a traditionally difficult polymer to work with — while maintaining its quality and physiochemical properties. This technology would allow for "infinite plastic recycling," according to Environmental Leader.
- Carbios’ technology involves an enzymatic depolimerization process of polyesters. The company says the monomers in PET extracted through this enzymatic recycling process could be used for the synthesis of virgin PET — avoiding compromising the value of the recycled material and facilitating production of durable, sustainable plastics.
- Carbios CEO Jean-Claude Lumaret says the company is working with “major players” to bring the recycling process to industrial scale.The new technology would make it possible to treat 100% of PET waste that may otherwise be landfilled or burned for energy. Carbios says his biorecycling processes could prevent the emission of 4.6 million tons of CO2 in Europe alone.
Many companies have toiled for years, in quest of a way to make endlessly and easily recyclable, quality plastics. Plastics' lightweight material and durability have the potential to come with environmental benefits such as waste reduction and energy savings. As such, the demand for plastic continues to soar; to the tune in Europe of 3.2 million tons in 2013, of which 1.8 million tons was recycled, according to Carbios. The United States recylcled more than 3 billion pounds of plastic bottles alone in 2014, representing a 97 million pound increase from 2013.
But PET remains a problem — one that Lumaret believes he’s on his way to resolving.
"These new progresses will enable us to pursue our efforts and undertake the development at the pilot scale of our PET recycling process and adapt this technology to the recycling of other plastic polymers," he says.