About this Research Topic
Plastics are ubiquitous and indispensable materials in the world economy and our daily lives, providing both high performance and energy saving benefits along with alarming pollution and waste stockpiles. The predominant consumer petroleum-based synthetic polymers, such as low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene and polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate and polyurethanes, take hundreds of years to degrade in the environment, ensuring a long-lasting blight on our oceans, countryside and are now recognized in our food system. As the production of plastic is expected to double over the next 20 years, plans such as legislation requiring all plastics packaging within the EU market to be either reusable or recyclable in a cost-effective manner by 2030 are increasingly important.
It is now widely recognized that changing from consumption and transitioning to sustainable growth models is essential to safeguarding the planet and people. The development of new regenerative technologies is essential to eliminating the indelible imprint of pervasive plastic, to deliver plastics circularity and secure the future prosperity of the planet and its inhabitants. Pioneering technologies and innovative scientific developments are essential in the mission to transition from the linear to the circular plastic economy. Nature’s biodegradation and bioregeneration processes combine environmental weathering, microbial and enzymatic biocatalytic activities for depolymerization of post-use macromolecules into constituent building blocks. Biochemical synthesis and repolymerization have the potential to revalorize these building-block molecules as functional bioconstructs to complete the loop and enable continuous life cycle operation for the next generation of plastic materials and products. Our challenge is now to effectively conjugate the necessary cross-disciplinary activities and progress the required science and engineering to complete the life-cycle for plastics.
This Research Topic welcomes articles on, but not limited to, the following topic areas:
• Discovery and production of novel synthetic-polymer converting enzymes using gene-based or function-based (meta-)genomic techniques
• Biocatalyst immobilization
• Biotechnological solutions for the increased postconsumer biopolymeric materials
• Protein engineering to develop plastic-converting enzymes with enhanced activity and stability
• Novel pretreatment processes to make plastics prone to enzymatic attack
• Metabolic engineering of microbial strains to valorize plastics degradation products
• Systems biology and multi-omics integration for elucidating plastic-converting and metabolic pathways
• Downstream strategies for large-scale valorization and upcycling of plastic wastes
• Other challenges in developing biotechnological processes for the conversion and valorization of plastic wastes
Keywords: Synthetic polymer converting enzymes, Pretreatment processes, Consolidated bioconversion, Upcycling plastic wastes, Discovery of novel enzymes
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.