French circular economy for plastic solution provider Carbios has developed a novel enzyme, which has the capability to break down plastic for recycling.

The development was described in an article entitled ‘An engineered PET-depolymerase to break down and recycle plastic bottles’ and published in the scientific journal Nature.

According to scientists at Carbios and the company’s academic partner the Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI), the enzyme can biologically depolymerise polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste.

Carbios chief scientific officer and co-author of the Nature article Prof Alain Marty said: “I am very proud that Nature, one of the most highly respected scientific journals in the world, has validated the quality of the research led by Carbios and TBI laboratory scientists in developing a PET recycling enzyme and a revolutionary process.

“The results obtained confirm the industrial and commercial potential of the Company’s proprietary process, which will be tested in 2021 in our demonstration plant in the heart of the French Chemical Valley, near Lyon.”

The company’s proprietary process supports a circular economy by also allowing the waste to be converted and recycled into new bottles.

The new technology also enables recycling PET fibres.

The University of Toledo, Ohio professor and Carbios’ Scientific Committee member Dr Saleh Jabarin said: “It’s a real breakthrough in the recycling and manufacturing of PET. Thanks to the innovative technology developed by Carbios, the PET industry will become truly circular, which is the goal for all players in this industry, especially brand-owners, PET producers and our civilisation as a whole.”