1. The EU-H2020 project P4SB was about the utilization of the conceptual and material tools of contemporary Synthetic Biology to bring about the sustainable and environmentally friendly bioconversion of oil-based plastic waste into fully biodegradable counterparts by means of deeply engineered, whole-cell bacterial catalysts. These tools will be used to design tailor-made enzymes for the bio-depolymerization of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PU (polyurethane), but also for the custom design of a Pseudomonas putida Cell Factory capable of metabolizing the resulting monomers. Pseudomonas putida will undergo deep metabolic surgery to channel these diverse substrates efficiently into the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), and functionalized derivatives. In addition, synthetic downstream processing modules based on the programmed non-lytic secretion of PHA will facilitate the release and recovery of the bioplastic from the bacterial biomass.

These industry driven objectives will help to address the market need for novel routes to valorise the gigantic plastic waste streams in the European Union and beyond, with direct opportunities for SME partners of P4SB spanning the entire value chain from plastic waste via Synthetic Biology to biodegradable plastic. As a result we anticipate a completely biobased process reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste by establishing it as a novel bulk second generation carbon source for industrial biotechnology, while at the same time opening new opportunities for the European plastic recycling industry and helping to achieve the ambitious recycling targets set by the European Union for 2020.

More info at


2. The new EU-H2020 project Mix-Up (which is coordinated by Prof Lars Blank from the RWTH Aachen, Germany and in close cooperation with China) aims to use fossil-based and biodegradable plastic (PLA and PHA) mixtures as feedstock for microbial transformations. The goal will be achieved by using enzyme mixtures for depolymerisation combined with the biological activity of mixed microbial cultures for the conversion of pre-treated plastic waste into valuable products. Plastics-degrading enzymatic cocktails will be customized and optimized for high specific binding capacities, stability, and catalytic efficacy towards a specific or broad plastic waste streams. The obtained mixed plastics monomers will be used as a substrate for microbial cultures and fermentatively metabolized into value-added chemicals and sustainable polymers with diverse novel properties.

The CIB participates in this project by I) Using in silico engineering of PHA/PHB-hydrolases and other depolymerases for increasing their thermostability and catalytic efficiency in PHA degradation; II) Studying the effect of chemical stressors resulting from mixed plastics hydrolysis on growth properties of Pseudomonas putida; III) Generating a diversity of materials derived from mcl-PHA, such as PHA-BC blends with antimicrobial activity, and to modify these polymers with functional molecules.

More info at