This Collaboration Aims to Achieve Infinite Recyclability of Plastics

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          News

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Topics: Emerging Technologies   
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Basecamp has announced their expanded collaboration with Protein Evolution to help eliminate global polyurethane and polyamide waste, which account for a staggering 10 percent of global plastic production. Their collaboration will accelerate the development timelines of novel enzymes and make the biological and circular recycling of these plastics a reality.

In an innovative step towards addressing the challenge of plastic and textile waste, Protein Evolution, Inc., a pioneer in biological recycling, has teamed up with Basecamp Research, a leader in biodiversity data mapping for AI biodesign. Their collaboration centers on the development of novel enzymes capable of breaking down polyurethane and nylon, materials that have long posed a significant recycling challenge.

This strategic partnership targets a crucial issue in the fashion industry and other sectors: the difficulty of recycling polyurethane and polyamide (nylon) waste. These materials, found in a wide range of products from athletic wear to car seats, are notoriously hard to recycle due to their complex composition. They represent a significant portion of global plastic production, and their accumulation in landfills and incinerators is a growing concern.

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Protein Evolution, Inc., founded in 2021 by Connor Lynn and Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, is dedicated to transitioning the chemicals and materials industries to a more sustainable, circular economy. 

Protein Evolution's Biopure™ technology, which utilizes artificial intelligence (AI)-designed enzymes to decompose polyester waste into reusable components, is at the forefront of this initiative. By harnessing Basecamp Research’s extensive biodiversity mapping system, the company aims to identify unique enzymes that target polyurethane and nylon waste specifically.

Innovative Enzyme Design and Environmental Impact

The joint effort focuses on engineering enzymes to deconstruct the long chemical chains in polyurethane and nylon into their basic building blocks. The resulting recycled materials promise to retain the quality of virgin plastics while significantly reducing the carbon footprint.

Connor Lynn, Co-Founder and CEO of Protein Evolution, emphasized the transformative potential of this collaboration for petrochemical companies and manufacturers, aligning with global decarbonization goals and reducing fashion waste.

Dr. Glen Gowers, Co-Founder of Basecamp Research, highlighted their excitement about partnering with Protein Evolution, leveraging their comprehensive map of microbial biodiversity to revolutionize enzymatic plastic recycling processes.

Basecamp Research’s unique approach to enzyme design involves sampling in diverse environments, including those affected by industrial contamination. Their AI platform, with over six billion genetic and environmental data points, is adept at predicting the properties of proteins for specific industrial applications.

This partnership is set to expedite the development of these innovative enzymes, shortening timelines from years to mere months, thanks to the combination of Basecamp Research's AI platform and Protein Evolution's expertise in scaling up processes.

Through this collaboration, Protein Evolution and Basecamp Research are attempting to set a new standard in the pursuit of sustainable materials and a circular economy, using the power of biotechnology and artificial intelligence to solve some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.

Topics: Emerging Technologies   

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