Plastics: a new technology to recycle PET biologically

A technology developed by a French company will enable the biological recycling of PET. PET is one of the most common and abundant plastics, with some 70 million tonnes produced worldwide each year.

The technology developed by the French company Carbios to biologically recycle PET has made the front page of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals. The article explains how their technology breaks down PET into its basic components using “gluttonous enzymes”.

Technology that breaks down 90% of PET in 10 hours

In April 2018, American and British researchers had already won acclaim in the scientific press with a publication on the use of enzymes to degrade plastics. Carbios had then indicated that its research was much more advanced, but specified that its priority was then to protect its technology with patents, before considering a publication in a leading scientific journal.

The technology of Carbios and the Toulouse Scientific Institute makes it possible to decompose 90% of PET in ten hours. The raw materials thus recovered can be used to make new PET. This is a major breakthrough in circular economy. 

Their method is 100 times more efficient than the competing methods announced so far, which “illustrates the strength of French public/private collaboration to bring basic and applied research to the best international level,” the two entities said in a press release.