"How to solve the world’s plastics problem: Bring back the milk man"
CNN Business recently published a very interesting news story titled "How to solve the world’s plastics problem: Bring back the milk man". It was written by Danielle Wiener-Bronner, for CNN Business, and is accompanied by a video report made by Bronte Lord, Bryce Urbany, Frank Fenimore & Jenny Marc.
The MOOC "Biobased Products for a Sustainable (Bio)economy - Discover how fossil fuels are being replaced by renewable resources to create sustainable and biobased products." starts today, 16.01.2019! It is an introductory level course by TU Delft and RWTH Aachen and is taught by a number of great instructors, P4SB's very own Professor Lars Blank among them.
Curious? Learn more and sign up for this course here!
About this course
Have you ever asked what “biobased” means or wondered about the key aspects in developing and commercializing biobased products? This course will answer those questions and more; highlighting the opportunities, hurdles, and driving forces of the bioeconomy.
Today’s industries face enormous global challenges when it comes to the fossil-based economy. Fossil resources are no longer a desirable feedstock for many products and governments’ climate goals put various limitations to its usage. Moreover, consumer perception has become an increasingly important factor. With biobased products as an alternative to the fossil-based economy, the bioeconomy can provide viable solutions to these challenges.
The course describes the different types of biomass, the methods of refinery and typical conversion technologies used for biobased products. You'll also engage in a study of the practical and real-life examples emerging in the market: biopolymers, bioenergy, bioflavours, and biosurfactants.
The course has been developed by a team of experts from seven different institutions and universities in three different countries, all sharing their personal perspectives on the opportunities and challenges faced by the biobased industry. The three top-ranked institutions Delft University of Technology, RWTH Aachen University, and Wageningen University & Research offer additional, more advanced courses to continue your learning journey:
Industrial Biotechnology: a more advanced course that digs deeper into engineering aspects of bio-based products.
MicroMasters Chemistry and Technology for Sustainability: Help drive the transition from fossil sources to renewable energy ones and engineer a biobased future.
Sustainable Development: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Introduction to sustainable development and its relation to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus.
What you'll learn
How to judge the opportunities for biobased resources as alternative feedstocks compared to fossil resources
The challenges and opportunities of the bioeconomy and the basic elements of the value chain
Real life examples of biobased products of the bioeconomy, such as biosurfactants, bioflavours, bioenergy, and biopolymers
How biobased products are produced
The key issues that must be overcome for the commercialization of such products
Last October, the 16th International Symposium on Biopolymers (ISBP 2018) was held in Beijing, China. P4SB was represented at this event by a Grand total of one poster, two short talks, and three invited lectures. The full program and more information about this event can be accessed via the ISBP 2018 website.
Our P4SB Partner ULEI has recently published the new article "Fast turbidimetric assay for analyzing the enzymatic hydrolysis of polyethylene terephthalate model substrates". It was written by Matheus Regis Belisário‐Ferrari, Ren Wei, Tobias Schneider, Annett Honak, and Wolfgang Zimmermann and first published on 15th of November 2018 in the Biotechnology Journal. Congtratulations to all involved!
Synthetic plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be cooperatively degraded by microbial polyester hydrolases and carboxylesterases, with the latter hydrolyzing the low‐molecular‐weight degradation intermediates. For the identification of PET‐degrading enzymes, efficient and rapid screening assays are required. Here we report a novel turbidimetric method in a microplate format for the fast screening of enzyme activities against the PET model substrates with two ester bonds bis‐(2‐Hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET) and ethylene glycol bis‐(p‐methylbenzoate) (2PET). The carboxylesterase TfCa from Thermobifida fusca KW3 was used for validating the method. High correlation and regression coefficients between the experimental and fitted data confirmed the accuracy and reproducibility of the method and its feasibility for analyzing the kinetics of the enzymatic hydrolysis of the PET model substrates. A comparison of the hydrolysis of BHET and 2PET by TfCa using a kinetic model for heterogeneous catalysis indicated that the enzyme preferentially hydrolyzed the less bulky molecule BHET. The high‐throughput assay will facilitate the detection of novel enzymes for the biocatalytic modification or degradation of PET.
"Biodegradable Plastic Blends Create New Possibilities for End-of-Life Management of Plastics but They Are Not a Panacea for Plastic Pollution" was written by Tanja Narancic, Steven Verstichel, Srinivasa Reddy Chaganti, Laura Morales-Gamez, Shane T. Kenny, Bruno De Wilde, Ramesh Babu Padamati, and Kevin E. O’Connor. It was first published in Environmental Science & Technology 2018 52 (18) on 29th of August 2018. Congratulations to all involved!
Plastic waste pollution is a global environmental problem which could be addressed by biodegradable plastics. The latter are blended together to achieve commercially functional properties, but the environmental fate of these blends is unknown. We have tested neat polymers, polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxybutyrate, polyhydroxyoctanoate, poly(butylene succinate), thermoplastic starch, polycaprolactone (PCL), and blends thereof for biodegradation across seven managed and unmanaged environments. PLA is one of the world’s best-selling biodegradable plastics, but it is not home compostable. We show here that PLA when blended with PCL becomes home compostable. We also demonstrate that the majority of the tested bioplastics and their blends degrade by thermophilic anaerobic digestion with high biogas output, but degradation times are 3–6 times longer than the retention times in commercial plants. While some polymers and their blends showed good biodegradation in soil and water, the majority of polymers and their blends tested in this study failed to achieve ISO and ASTM biodegradation standards, and some failed to show any biodegradation. Thus, biodegradable plastic blends need careful postconsumer management, and further design to allow more rapid biodegradation in multiple environments is needed as their release into the environment can cause plastic Pollution.
RWTH's University newspaper, RWTH insight, has run an item about the P4SB Project in their most recent issue. The article was written by Celina Begolli, and appeared in the third issue of RWTH insight to be published in 2018.
At this year's International Symposium on Biopolymers (ISBP) P4SB's very own Maria-Tsampika Manoli gave a talk on "Systems Analysis and Synthetic Tuning of the PHA Cycle in Pseudomonas putida KT2440". The ISBP 2018 was held in Bejing, China, and took place from 21st to 24th of October 2018.
Want to know more about the ISBP 2018? Take a look at their Webpage!
The BBC recently publised a highly informative new article about a campaign started by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with the Goal to reduce and ultimately eliminate plastic waste. Due to this campaign, many big companies and other organizations have now signed a pledge to eliminate plastic waste by 2025.
Curious? The full article, which was first published by the BBC on 29th of October 2018, can be found on the BBC Website!
This year's International Symposium on Biopolymers, ISBP2018 for short, took place on October 21st to 24th in Bejing, China. P4SB's Auxiliadora Prieto appeared at this event as an invited lecturer, giving a talk about the P4SB project. Congrats!
Curious? Find out more about the ISBP2018 on their website!