Enzyme that degrades plastic: the French of Carbios ready to use it

The green chemistry company Carbios assured Thursday, April 19, 2018 that its technology of degradation of plastic by enzymes was much more advanced than that just unveiled, with much publicity , by American and British scientists . " The use of enzymes for the degradation of plastics is not new, the French biotech Carbios is already developing this technology with performance well above those announced by these researchers ", argued the company in a statement. Scientists from the Portsmouth University of the United Kingdom and the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced two days ago that the accidental mutation of an enzyme, allowing a bacterium to feed on plastic type PET, made it even more effective in this task.According to them, this discovery opened a new trail for the destruction of plastics that accumulate around the world.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) is the one of the most common plastics, since it contributes 65 million tons to the 335 million tons of plastics produced each year worldwide. A quarter of this production is used to make bottles and packaging, the rest going mainly to the textile industry (PET is a polyester).

"Strong for the buzz"

"The English and the Americans are very strong enough to make + buzz + because this enzyme is far from new.From 2016, it has been the subject of four publications in reputable journals as Science Nature and now the Accounts- Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences (PNAS) "says Alain Marty, Scientific Director of Carbios. " These four articles have in common to never say clearly what proportion of PET has been transformed into monomer (its raw material) but give only indications to calculate it ", underlines this former researcher of the Insa Toulouse.

On these bases, Mr. Marty arrived at " 0.01% in 36 hours " for the first three publications – " we are far from saving the planet ", he quipped. For the last, Mr. Marty arrives at a conversion rate " around 3% in 96 hours ". In contrast, Carbios, based in Clermont-Ferrand, believes that its technology can degrade the PET to 97% within 24 hours. The Anglo-Saxon scientists, he notes, " did not work on bottles or packaging, but on a polymer of which we know nothing ". Carbios can treat PET in all its forms, solid or textile, colored or not. This has particularly attracted the interest of L'Oréal, world leader in cosmetics, which has partnered with the startup to recycle its packaging.

If Carbios communicates regularly on the As a result of its advanced work, the company has not turned to the scientific community through publications in peer-reviewed journals. " I work for a company whose primary goal is to protect its intellectual property, by filing patents – not to make very good publications in scientific journals ," says Marty. Now that its patents are registered, Carbios intends to be better known. " In view of our results, we are very confident that our articles are accepted in prestigious journals ," added his scientific director, referring to a deadline of three to six months.

Circular economy

Since its creation in 2011, Carbios has invested some 20 million euros in research and mobilized about sixty researchers through its agreements with Insa and CNRS. The Auvergnate company, which is listed on the stock market, now intends " to initiate the phase of industrial demonstration " of its process – and this, " from 2019 ". It wants to set up a unit of 10,000 tons " which will produce the first volumes of virgin PET from (his) technology by mid-2021 " in a logic of circular economy. The company is currently choosing the location of this demonstrator. " One is very lucky to be in France when one makes innovation ", underlines the general director Jean-Claude Lumaret, in reference to the multiple devices of aid to research. " Our duty now is to move quickly towards industrialization "

Between attachment and repulsion, emotions under our "waste"

Unsavory remnants of memories, the waste issue is not only economic but also more emotional, linked to attachment to objects and repulsion for dirt.

When Mounia El Kotni decided to install a small vermicomposter on her window sill in Paris, she was very motivated, convinced of the importance of no longer throwing her peelings in the trash.

Alas, the experience turns out nightmare: the cocoons given to him never become worms, the midges invade his kitchen. "It stank of death, I had the impression of having a corpse at home," says the young anthropologist.

Faced with a husband "disgusted" by the idea of ​​worms eating organic matter and "who has supported by it "for her for a month, she will eventually give up.

Even without these unusual hazards, a vermicomposteur that feels nothing like the one that Thierry Sin has installed in his kitchen, can be off. "We are in the register of emotion, it does not reason," says the adept of this technique for ten years, while an eisenia worms in his hand.

"But there is the positive side, almost an attachment" to the worms that one feeds every day, he assures.

Organic waste is often seen as "repulsive", especially in the city , commented the sociologist Baptiste Monsaingeon, center Alexandre-Koyré on the history of science.

They are "at the bottom" of the scale, continues the author of "Homo detritus", which establishes a hierarchy according to " the attachment "to these objects and rejects which make up the heterogeneous whole of waste.

-" Wealth "of trash cans –

 The invention of trash can

The invention of trash can" allows invisibiliser "rubbish, and promoted the" tipping "to the society of" all disposable ", says Baptiste Montsaingeon. But this evolution is not inevitable. You can "put your nose in his trash instead of spending time closing the lid," he suggests, as the government tries to develop the circular economy, including recycling. (AFP / Archives – SEBASTIEN BOZON)

At the top of the ladder, objects that are most important but have no place or utility and that we will prefer to give to a loved one. Others a little less important will be on the shelves of Emmaus. Then recyclables for selective sorting and finally "the trash of all comers" with the dirtiest.

A logic initiated with the invention of the trash "which allows to invisibilise" the detritus, and developed throughout the Twentieth with the "tipping" towards the society of "all disposable", explains Baptiste Montsaingeon.

But this evolution is not inevitable. You can "put your nose in his trash instead of spending time closing the lid," he suggests, as the government tries to develop the circular economy, including recycling.

So how to encourage the French to look at their garbage in the face? "We need to change attitudes and show people that our trash cans are full of wealth," argues Patricia Lavocat, founder of Rue Rangoli.

This company which is part of the incubator of start-up HEC sells objects from from "upcycling design", which converts used materials into value-added products: computer bags in tires, elephant dung paper, furniture made from building waste …

 Poufs made with rooms in the Netherlands (AFP / Archives - NICOLAS DELAUNAY)

Poufs made with recycled tubes in the Netherlands (AFP / Archives – NICOLAS DELAUNAY)

"We are late in the upcycling in France (…) because we have access to everything, we throw and we buy, "says the head of the company, despite all persuaded that it is possible to create" perennial sectors "of upcycling, thanks to the "Pedagogy".

"Waste is no longer a waste when it has a future", adds Henri Jeantet, founder of the consulting firm Unknows

Based on a sociological study that classifies the individual behaviors faced with sorting ("convinced", "recalcitrant", "intermittent"), he tries to encourage local communities and companies in the sector to look at the personal motivations behind recycling.

We must "go out of economic rationalities to understand the real reasons why people do what they do," he pleads.

But even knowing their inner essence, changing behavior is a challenge.

"Waste, we do not want to see it, so unless you have a passion and disregard this disgust, this + ah 'dirty' that we have since childhood, it's not easy, "summarizes Mounia El Kotni.

London wants to ban straws and cotton swabs

The British government announced on Thursday it will ban plastic straws, plastic cups and swabs by the end of the year as part of its plan to fight waste in this oil-derived material. 19659002] "We are going to ban these plastic objects," said UK Environment Minister Michael Gove, who was questioned about the BBC, saying it was "a global emergency" that particularly threatened marine wildlife.

This ban will come into effect by "the end of the year" in the form of "a law", he said.

A consultation will be launched earlier this year on the ban on plastic single-use items in England, according to a statement issued by Prime Minister Theresa May. Exceptions would be provided, such as the use of straws in a medical setting.

Some 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year in the UK, the statement said.

 Plastic waste in the bed of the Ghadir River flowing into the Mediterranean Sea near Beirut on January 14, 2017 (AFP / Archives - ANWAR AMRO)

Plastic waste in the Ghadir River bed flowing in the Mediterranean Sea near Beirut, January 14, 2017 (AFP / Archives – ANWAR AMRO)

In January, Theresa May announced a new plan to fight against plastic waste, also providing for the generalization of pay plastic bags to all shops in England. The current legislation only concerns supermarkets whose customers must pay 5 pence (5.7 eurocents) per bag.

His Government also wishes to introduce a deposit system for plastic bottles, as is already the case in other European countries.

Theresa May plans to call on the other states attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in London to join this fight against plastic waste.

Climate: A catastrophic slaughter in Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Climate change threatens more and more what is considered a jewel of the world heritage of humanity: the Great Barrier Reef in Australia . According to a study published in the journal Nature Wednesday, April 18, 2018, the past years were black for the latter. She suffered a "catastrophic" hecatomb of her corals during a very marked heat wave in 2016 threatening a greater diversity of life than hitherto estimated. Thus, the reefs have been hard hit by the increase in water temperatures following global warming.

Since 1981, The coral reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It stretches about 348,000 square kilometers along the Australian coast making it the largest coral ensemble in the world. The report notes that about 30% of the coral reefs died during the heat wave between March and November 2016. These dates represent the first episode of two consecutive years of bleaching.

Pantry and Shelter [19659004TerryHuguesco-authorofthestudyanddirectoroftheCenterofExcellenceforCoralReefStudiesatJamesCookUniversitytoldAFPthatthemostendangeredcoralsarethosewithbrancheslikethecoraltablesthatprovidetheirhidingplacesforjuvenilefishIndeedcoralreefsserveashabitatforothermarinecreatures" The corals most likely to hold the shock are smooth, melon-shaped said the researcher. These corals do not have too much trouble building their skeleton but they are not very useful for habitat "

Researchers call for the protection of surviving corals. These are estimated at one billion. To this end, the commitments made in the Paris Agreement must absolutely be respected.

Coral reefs cover less than 0.2% of the ocean's surface but are home to 30% of marine animal and plant species. They protect them from predators and serve as their pantry. Coral reefs also contribute to coastal protection, human nutrition and tourism.

Total's bio-refinery at La Mède will be doped with palm oil, denounce NGOs

Total's bio-refinery in La Mede will consume 550,000 tons of palm oil a year, "bouncing French imports" of this decried oil, NGOs denounced Thursday, while the government wants to fight against deforestation Imported.

The French oil group plans to commission this bio-refinery this summer.

According to a document from the prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhône that Greenpeace and the Friends of the Earth obtained, "the oil supply plan of the establishment is, as a first approach, thus constituted: 100 kilotonnes per year of used edible oils or animal fats "," 100 kilotons per year of acid products derived from the refining of vegetable oils "- palm oil according to the document – and" 450 kilotonnes per year of palm palms. "

These environmental groups are concerned about the supply of palm oil, whose production in Malaysia and Indonesia is leading to deforestation that weakens the ecosystem, threatening rhinos, orangutans and tigers. and affecting local populations

In the face of criticism, Total is committed to supplying itself with "certified" palm oil, according to this document. These certification systems are, however, considered insufficient by NGOs and industrialists.

Total said previously wanting to use 60 to 70% of vegetable oils, palm oil but also rapeseed, soya or sunflower and 30 to 40% of used edible oils and residual oils.

"The project, which will boost French imports of palm oil by 64%, demonstrates the total inconsistency of the French government," denounce Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in a joint statement.

The Minister of Ecological Transition, Nicolas Hulot, wants to stop the importation of forest or agricultural products contributing to deforestation around the world.

According to Sylvain Angerand, Friends of the Earth, "the next few weeks are decisive because Europe is revising its biofuel support policy. "

MEPs voted in January for a gradual phasing out of palm oil in biofuels by 2021. This vote, which is not binding, must be negotiated with the European Council and the Commission

The use of palm oil in sectors such as food or cosmetics has already decreased in Europe , but it has increased in the field of biofuels.

Total had launched in 2015 a project for the transformation of its La Mède refinery, which was then in deficit. The group has stopped refining crude oil and converted it at the cost of an investment of 275 million euros, including installing an oil depot, a solar farm, a training center and this bio-refinery. 19659013]