Spain launches project on enzyme-aided plastics processes

13 December 2018

The Spanish Plastics Technology Centre, Aimplas has launched a project to use enzymes to develop sustainable plastics manufacturing and recycling processes. 
The Enzplast project, said Aimplas on 13 Dec, focuses on the use of enzymes in the plastics sector for different applications including synthesis of polymers. In the new process enzymes will replace metal catalysts, which are generally associated with toxicity, to make the materials safer for both the environment and people. 
Furthermore, according to Aimplas, the enzyme-aided polymerisation process requires lower reaction temperatures compared to conventional catalysts. This minimises the use of organic solvents with the subsequent reduction in emissions. 
Another part of the study will explore a procedure to use enzymes in the recycling process of plastics. Here, enzymes will be incorporated in the washing stage to remove odour. As part of the process, a number of industrial sectors – including those with dairy, meat and fish wastes – have been identified. The project will determine the key compounds that produce odour and will select enzymes or groups of enzymes to address the problem.
The role of enzymes in helping with the separation of multilayer waste materials will also be studied as part of the project. 
Furthermore, the project will study the potential role enzymes can play in the biodegradation process for several different bioplastics. For this, the selected enzymes will be added into the biodegradation process both under aerobic and anaerobic digestion conditions. 
Enzplast is supported by the Valencian institute of business competitiveness (IVACE) and cofounded by EU ERDF funds within the 2014-2020 ERDF Operational Programme for the Valencian region.