New enzyme tech can turn plastic waste into fresh resources

Karen Pham

Karen Pham

Protein Evolution Inc (PEI) – a team of scientific minds aiming to help the chemicals industry transition to a lower-carbon, circular economy – has launched technology that uses an enzyme to transform plastic and textile waste into a reusable resource.

The company creates enzymes to break down end-of-life textile and plastic waste into the building blocks that make up new textile and plastic products. 

This invention represents an affordable way to help decarbonise the chemical industry, and make an impact on the emerging bio-economy as companies, communities and governments face regulatory pressure to meet global sustainability goals in the coming years.

Collab SOS, Collaborative Fund’s recently announced climate fund, has provided $20 million towards Protein Evolution’s initial funding. PEI would receive extra funding from New Climate Ventures, Eldridge, Nextrans and Good Friends, which is backed by the founders of Warby Parker, Allbirds and Harry’s.

Connor Lynn, co-founder and chief business officer of PEI, said that the current approach to plastic recycling is expensive, ineffective and resource-intensive despite significant and aggressive industry commitments toward sustainability.

“Right now, it’s far cheaper for petrochemical companies to produce new virgin plastics than it is to recycle existing materials, which is one of many reasons why used plastic is piling up in our oceans, landfills and incinerators,” said Lynn.

“PEI has innovated a low-energy, cost-competitive process for upcycling finished plastics that are poised to meet both industry concerns and deliver massive environmental benefits. We’re working hard to usher in a new era of plastics, one that’s truly sustainable and circular.”

By the end of this month, the team expects to begin its first commercial partnership using an enzyme to convert plastic waste, which will serve consumers all over the world.

Karen Pham

Karen Pham

Karen Pham is a marketing and branding enthusiast with a major in legal English. Based in Ho Chi Minh City, she is a contributor to Viable.Earth.

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