Enzymatic recycling:
removing the constraints of current processes

Opening new ecological and competitive avenues for the virtuous management of the life cycle of plastic and textile materials

Process overview

Our enzymatic recycling process uses an enzyme capable of specifically depolymerizing the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) contained in various plastics or textiles. Current thermomechanical recycling processes have limitations: only clear plastic can be recycled in closed loops, with a loss of quality in each cycle, making it difficult to obtain new products from 100% recycled PET. Thus, complex and soiled plastics are very difficult or impossible to recycle.

Unlike conventional processes, our innovation allows infinite recycling of all types of PET waste as well as the production of 100% recycled and 100% recyclable PET products, without loss of quality. Plastic and textile waste is now a precious raw material enabling the circular economy to become an industrial reality.

 

How does it work?

The monomers resulting from the depolymerization process are purified in order to be re-polymerized into a PET of a quality equivalent to the virgin PET obtained from the petrochemical industry. The unique process that we are developing allows infinite recycling of these materials, whether clear, opaque, complex or of textile origin (polyesters), to produce new materials.

This is the first organic approach allowing PET plastics and textiles to be recycled infinitely according to a circular economy principle.

This innovation meets strong demand from consumers, public authorities and manufacturers who have made ambitious commitments in terms of sustainable development and eco-design of their packaging. This revolutionary technology makes it possible to recover all PET waste, including waste that cannot be recovered using current recycling technologies.

An internationally recognized process:

This PET innovation, the first of its kind in the world, was recently recognized in a scientific paper published in the prestigious journal Nature. The article, entitled “An engineered PET-depolymerase to break down and recycle plastic bottles”, was co-authored by our scientific teams and those of our academic partner, Toulouse Biotechnology Institute (TBI)

 

 

In 2019, our infinite recycling technology of PET plastics is among the first innovations to join the selection of the 1,000 sustainable and competitive solutions certified by the Solar Impulse Foundation. This label is awarded to innovations that combine criteria of technical feasibility, positive social and environmental impact, and economic viability.

 

 

 

 

Development stage and outlooks

Currently at the pilot stage, Carbios’ technology has already made it possible to produce the first batches of transparent PET bottles from monomers obtained from the depolymerization of PET plastic waste as well as from PET polyester textile waste.

The launch of Carbios’ industrial demonstration plant, operating its enzymatic recycling process, occured in September 2021. This demonstration plant, located on a site of the Michelin Group in Clermont-Ferrand, will validate the technical, environmental and economic performance of our enzymatic PET recycling process. This step will make it possible to prepare the complete engineering documents for the process (from waste to monomers) for the construction and implementation of a first industrial unit.

The market

PET offers significant advantages (weight, durability, versatility) compared to alternative materials, making it a widely used polymer in the packaging and textile sectors. As they have a short lifespan, almost all PET products marketed are transformed into waste, making PET a priority target for recycling.

In 2017, the global market for the production of PET bottles, packaging and films represented around 24 million tonnes with an annual growth rate of 3.4%. For PET fibers (textiles, rugs, carpets, pillows, duvets, etc.), production represented 42 million metric tons, up by 6% per year. These production levels could reach over 30 and 67 million tonnes respectively in 2025. (Sources: IHS Markit in 2018 and PCI Wood Mackenzie in 2018)

  • Carbios announces the publication of an article on its enzymatic recycling technology in the prestigious scientific journal Nature

    8 April 2020 | 18h00

    This publication outlines Company’s proprietary process for converting plastic waste into new bottles – a breakthrough towards a circular economy Clermont-Ferrand, France, April 8th, 2020...

  • Carbios produces first clear plastic bottles from enzymatically recycled textile waste

    19 November 2020 | 6h45

    The company’s latest recycling milestone brings new value to an otherwise waste-destined 42 million tons of polyester textiles produced annually[1] Clermont-Ferrand, France, November 19th, 2020...

  • CARBIOS awarded a Solar Impulse “Efficient Solution” label

    3 June 2019 | 6h45

    CARBIOS infinite plastic recycling technology is among the first labelled innovations to join the 1 000 sustainable and competitive solutions sought by the Solar Impulse...