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.
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 "