Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

BioSC Workshop

"Closing Cycles in the Plastics Bioeconomy"

A BioSC workshop on the recycling of plastic waste was held in Aachen on 10th February. 45 scientists and entrepreneurs discussed different aspects of the topic ranging from depolymerisation to biotechnological and chemical conversion as well as the quantification of microplastics.

Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich


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Plastic products are an integral part of modern society. Due to their wide range of applications and the high availability of inexpensive raw materials, petroleum-based polymers can be found in many everyday objects. However, since these polymers are very durable, plastic waste is causing a global pollution crisis. The development of production of plastic monomers and polymers from plastic waste using biotechnological and chemical methods offers the opportunity to replace fossil resources and close the carbon cycle for polymer production.

The workshop was opened by Lars Blank (RWTH Aachen), who uses plastic waste as substrate for the production of bioplastics in Pseudomonas putida. In this process, plastics are hydrolysed in the bacteria and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are produced from the released monomers. Bacterial growth was initially optimised for ethylene glycol and butanediol as carbon sources, which then serve as starting molecules for the production of PHA. Pseudomonads also play a central role in the work of Nick Wierckx (Forschungszentrum Jülich), who is optimising them for the production of phenol and other aromatic compounds. For the production of new plastics, phenol in particular plays a major role as a precursor molecule. The Pseudomonas strains used have to be optimised for high tolerance to phenol and other toxic organic solvents. Benedikt Weber (RWTH Aachen) presented his work on the tailor-made enzymatic degradation of polyurethane to hexamethylene diamine (HMDA). A particular challenge here is the extraction and purification of HMDA, which is necessary before HDMA can be used again for plastics production.

Tim Devlamynck presented the strategy of Indaver, a company which handles waste management and the recycling of materials and energy for entire companies. Indaver is thus able to make evaluations regarding the origin and type of plastic waste. The waste is used to produce styrene, which can then be used again for the production of plastic. Sonja Herres-Pawlis (RWTH Aachen) presented her work on the production of polylactide using metalloenzymes which, unlike the catalysts used to date, are non-toxic and enable PLA to be produced on an industrially competitive basis. Jürgen Klankermayer (RWTH Aachen) presented a process for recycling the mixture of PLA and PET. In this process, the starting materials can be hydrolysed to 99 % by means of temperature variation and different catalysts.

The workshop was concluded with the lectures of Ulrich Schwaneberg (RWTH Aachen/DWI Leibniz-Institut Aachen) and Karl-Erich Jaeger (HHU Düsseldorf). Ulrich Schwaneberg presented the anchor peptide technology developed in the BioSC FocusLab „greenRelease“ and its precursor projects. The anchor peptides have a broad range of applications and can be used for the targeted degradation and quantification of microplastics. In the last presentation of the day, Karl-Erich Jaeger presented his investigations into the degradation of PET by polyester hydrolases from marine microorganisms. These enzymes provide new possibilities for the recycling of plastic waste and could contribute to the reduction of plastic waste in marine systems.

BioSC Workshop

"Closing Cycles in the Plastics Bioeconomy"

February 10, 2020 | 09:45 am - 05:00 pm | RWTH Aachen

NGP2 - Center for Next Generation Processes and Products | Forckenbeckstr. 51 | 52074 Aachen

photos: RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Plastic products are an integral part of modern society. As a result of the high availability of cheap building blocks from petroleum resources and the wide application range of plastics, they are found in many items used in everyday life. However, as petroleum-based polymers are highly durable, plastic waste is creating a global pollution crisis. In light of this dilemma, novel concepts are required that enable effective recycling of plastic waste and simultaneously add value to these waste streams. Bio-upcycling offers a major opportunity to valorize plastic waste by establishing it as substrate for biotechnology. The simultaneous development of bio-based production of plastic mono- and polymers from plastic waste streams can replace the utilization of fossil resources, thereby closing the carbon cycle for bio-polymer production. In order to tackle this complex topic, know-how from various fields of research is required. With its highly diverse compilation of researchers, the BioSC consortium offers expertise in each pole of activity required to tackle this ambitious goal. The PlastiCycle-Workshop aims to bring together leading experts to share state-of-the-art insights. This will allow effective exchange and connection of ideas that are necessary to close the cycle of a plastics bioeconomy.


Registration is closed!






Concepts and process for plastic conversion


P4SB - From Plastic waste to Plastic value using Pseudomonas putida Synthetic Biology

Lars Blank, RWTH Aachen University / BioSC

Sustainable production of plastic monomers

Nick Wierckx, Forschungszentrum / BioSC

Tailor made separation processes for depolymerized plastics

Benedikt Weber, RWTH Aachen University / BioSC



Chemical conversion


Plastics2chemicals: Towards a demo plant for the chemical recycling of plastic waste

Tim Devlamynck, Indaver

Overtaking SnOct2: new sustainable avenues in ring-opening polymerisation of lactones

Sonja Herres-Pawlis, RWTH Aachen University / BioSC

Catalytic Plastic Recycling with Integration of Renewable Resources

Jürgen Klankermeyer, RWTH Aachen University


Coffee break

Biological depolymerization


Protein Engineering for (Micro-)Plastic Degradation and Analytics

Ulrich Schwaneberg, RWTH Aachen University / BioSC

Plastic-degrading enzymes from marine resources

Karl-Erich Jaeger, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf / BioSC


Closing remarks


Get-together with bier and brezels


Confirmed speaker

Tim Devlamynck, Business Developer P2C at Indaver

Lars M. Blank, Head of the Institute of Applied Microbiology at RWTH Aachen

Nick Wierckx, Head of the department Microbial Catalysis at FZ Jülich

Andreas Jupke, Head of the chair AVT – Fluid process engineering at RWTH Aachen

Sonja Herres-Pawlis, Professor for Bioanorganic Chemistry at RWTH Aachen

Karl-Erich Jaeger, Director of the Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology at HHU Düsseldorf

Jürgen Klankermayer, Professor of Technical Chemistry at the ITMC at RWTH Aachen University

Ulrich Schwaneberg, Head of the chair for Biotechnology at RWTH Aachen University