Plastic production is constantly increasing, reaching 370 MMT in 2019. This production generates high greenhouse gas emissions from fossil resources, and land/water pollution due to limited recycling. Therefore, substitution of fossil-based plastics with polymers derived from renewable raw materials is necessary for the development of a more sustainable bio-economy worldwide.
PET, one the most widely used plastic, relies on fossil resources. A promising alternative is PEF, which has a similar structure to PET but differs in its origin. Indeed, PEF can be obtained from polymerization of renewable building blocks, which can be derived from sugar based lignocellulosic biomass, and is fully recyclable into its initial components by depolymerization. In addition, PEF exhibits better chemical properties than PET such as permeability against gases or a higher barrier to water/oxygen.

FURENPOL combines relevant actors, both in the Biotechnology and Plastic sectors, in an interdisciplinary consortium, able to fulfill PEF sustainable development.
The CSIC coordinator (group of Biotechnology for Lignocellulosic Biomass at CIB) presents a large background in industrial enzymes, while the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (group of Electronic and Atomic Protein Modeling) is providing its supercomputational facilities. The UAB (department of Chemical, Biological & Environmental Engineering, and Pilot-Plant) will optimize enzyme production and target reactions, together with us here at Nostrum Biodiscovery (NBD), as we will provide our experience in protein tailoring, required for successful application in the plastic sector and biotechnology valorization. Then, evaluation of the above applications for the enzymatic synthesis and recycling of plastic building blocks and polymers will be performed by the Technological Institute of Plastics AIMPLAS (Chemical Technology and other departments) acting as a link with the companies UNEMSA (interested in furanic plastic adhesives), ACTECO (a plastic- recycling company) and the above mentioned NBD.

This project with reference PLEC2021-007690 is being financed by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and European Union NextGenerationEU/PRTR.