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Development of innovative biotic symbiosis for plastic biodegradation and synthesis to solve their end of life challenges in the agriculture and food industries

Project description

A new solution for plastics pollution

The EU’s transition to a more sustainable and circular economy hinges on efforts to minimise the generation of waste. A more circular plastics economy plays a key role in this transition. The EU-funded RECOVER project aims to address the accumulation of non-recyclable agricultural and packaging plastics and microplastics pollution. It will apply biotech solutions, including a combination of microorganisms, novel enzymes, earthworms and insects to degrade plastics and transform them into added-value products. Among its ambitious objectives, RECOVER will develop processes for the bioremediation of plastics pollution in soils and compost and the biotransformation of conventional plastics into biofertilisers and biodegradable plastics for agricultural and food packaging applications. In this way, it will contribute to closing the loop in both productive sectors while solving current environmental challenges.

Objective

RECOVER is a disruptive RIA proposal built upon the actual needs to solve the contamination of agro-fields with non-biodegradable agro-plastics as well as to improve municipal waste handling by decreasing drastically the packaging fraction going to unsustainable waste management routes.

We intend to reach our ambitious objectives applying biotech solutions that will include symbiotic bioprocesses between previously reported high powered microorganisms through microbiotic systems vectored by several insect species. Indeed, one of the main innovations in our proposal is the combination of endogenous and exogenous microorganisms and their inoculation on insects. This will allow achieving higher levels of biodegradation and direct conversion (at the same time) of agri-food plastic wastes in insect by-products such as chitin, that can be converted in chitosan (high value as bioplastics raw materials and other interesting industrial applications due to anti-microbial activity) that will be used in active packaging, enhanced mulching films and biofertilizers applications.

RECOVER will help providing novel biotechnological solutions applying microorganisms, enzymes and insects to degrade conventional plastic packaging and agricultural films waste streams but also result in new feedstocks for the bio-based industries. The process will be optimized and performed either ex-situ in composting reactors (preferred route for non-recyclable plastics from municipal solid waste or for agricultural films that can be collected easily) or in-situ in the case of bioremediating soil pollution, by e.g. mulching films, further contributing to the long-term removal of non-biodegradable polymers from the environment. In addition, RECOVER can solve the microplastics pollution at the level of both industrial composting and soil.

Coordinator

UNIVERSIDAD DE ALMERIA
Net EU contribution
€ 515 475,00
Address
CARRETERA SACRAMENTO CANADA
04120 Almeria
Spain

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Region
Sur Andalucía Almería
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 609 500,00

Participants (17)