In the developed process, the synthetic polymers are decomposed into their monomeric constituents by means of enzymatic methods under gentle conditions. Through the use of special mushrooms, a natural tool has been found that can decompose an artificially created substance. From the monomers obtained, high-quality plastics can be produced in further production steps. Recycled plastics are thus restored to their full value, similar to glass or paper recycling. As a result, the full range of the PET application possibilities (eg: bottles, packaging, sportswear, synthetic building blocks, etc.) can be reused.
This new, fully-fledged recycling cycle avoids waste, since it is completely converted back into materials without any by-products being produced. As a result, fewer production raw materials have to be newly generated from crude oil.
The Austrian K2 Center ACIB has been researching the recycling of polyester for a decade. The competence center is formed by a grouping of seven universities and 25 project partners. An interdisciplinary research team, consisting of professors from the Vienna University of Technology, the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, and Graz University of Technology, participated in the development of the new process presented here. Since the implementation, and thus the cooperation with the industrial partners in recycling practice, is just as important as the innovation of future-oriented ideas, there are already first cooperations with disposal companies in Styria and Vienna.