Australian startup uses enzyme technology to recycle plastic
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Australian startup uses enzyme technology to recycle plastic

22 Sep 2021 (Last Updated September 22nd, 2021 15:58)

Samsara's carbon-neutral recycling process removes the need to use fossil fuels to create plastics.

Australian startup uses enzyme technology to recycle plastic
A PET bottle after being consumed by Samsara’s plastic-eating enzymes. Credit: Research School of Chemistry / ANU.

An Australian startup is using enzyme technology that can ‘infinitely’ recycle plastic to combat the worldwide plastic pollution crisis.

Samsara uses enzymes to chemically break down plastic, as opposed to the typically used process of shredding and melting plastics.

Developed by scientists at the Australian National University (ANU), the technology disintegrates used plastic into its core elements to recycle it into new plastic.

The process is carbon-neutral and removes the need to use fossil fuel to create plastics.

Samsara is supported by the ANU and Main Sequence, an innovation fund founded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, as well as Australian supermarket chain Woolworths.

Samsara CEO Paul Riley said: “Samsara is a major breakthrough because we’re able to make plastic infinitely recyclable.

“This means we will never have to create new plastic from scratch using fossil fuels again, and we can save plastic from our oceans and landfill to give it a new life in new products.”

Samsara’s enzymes are currently being used on a small scale at ANU’s lab, with the first commercial recycling plant expected to be founded in the next two years.

As part of its commitment to supporting the startup, Woolworths Group will use the first 5,000t of recycled Samsara plastic to package its own-brand products.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said: “We know plastics and recycling are some of our customers’ top environmental concerns.

“We want to help build a future where the plastic they put in their shopping basket is treated like a resource, which can be used over and over again.

“We’ll continue to work hard to reduce plastic packaging, but where we can’t cut it out altogether, we can use Samsara to make products plastic-neutral – 100% recycled and 100% recyclable.”

Last April, France-based biochemistry company Carbios developed a novel enzyme that can break down plastic for recycling.