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The next generation of biodegradable and biorecyclable textiles

The pollution of our oceans with plastics is a global catastrophe that is rapidly gaining international recognition. Prominent examples include plastic litter found on beaches, but also microplastics derived from our clothing. Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear are one of the main sources of marine pollution, accounting for about 27% of all litter found in European oceans. This is caused by a lack of proper waste management due to poor recycling of used gear, and it is exacerbated by the extremely long-term stability of fishing nets.

IBG-1 researchers in the departments of Microbial Catalysis and Quantitative Microbial Phenotyping will help to address this challenge in the project “Glaukos”, a four-year European project that will develop biodegradable and biorecyclable textile fibres and coatings to be used in fishing gear and clothing. This European research project kicked off on June 8th, World Oceans Day. It brings together 14 partners from 9 European countries and is financed with over 4.1 million euro from the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), a public-private partnership between the European Commission (Horizon 2020 programme) and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC).

The Glaukos project will redesign the complete life cycle of textiles, including the production of bio-based building blocks from European renewable feedstocks, the design of new eco-polymers with triggerable biodegradability, the development of eco-friendly fishing gear coatings with increased biobased content, the spinning and weaving of fishing gear and clothing prototypes, and the bio-upcycling of these new materials. IBG-1 scientists will bring in their expertise in the beginning and the end of this life cycle, namely in the production of organic acid building blocks with Ustilago yeasts, and the enzymatic and microbial bio-depolymerization of the final products.


Further reading:

The intended life cycle of Glaukos textilesThe intended life cycle of Glaukos textiles