prof. Dr. Ir. Marjan De Mey
Greener, cleaner, more efficient
The search to replace fossil resources with more sustainable materials has already produced significant results. Still, plant-based plastics remain a niche product, and the shift from a fossil-fuel industry to a commercial production based on biological material has yet to take place. There are already some organic bottles on the market, like Coca Cola's green bottle, but their production is based on ethanol, a resource made of sugars suitable for human consumption.
We've modified the E coli bacteria to make it capable of transforming certain types of sugar into ethylene glycol, a molecule used to make the common plastic called PET. The sugars are found in organic waste but are not digestible by humans. This makes it also more advantageous from an economic point of view, it's cheaper than sugars suitable for human consumption.