POSTED: Nov 21, 2022

Microbiology
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Recycling Plastic Using Bacteria
Louisa James-Pearson

PhD (Biotechnology)

Queensland University of Technology

Loading...Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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One degree wasn’t enough!

After being a laboratory technician following my Bachelor of Science degree, I was 'bitten by the research bug' and took on a Master’s degree and PhD in biotechnology-related fields. Having completed my PhD this year (2023), I am keen to demonstrate my learnt skills in a professional setting.

My PhD thesis was relevant to the plastic waste accumulation problem that the world is currently facing. A core problem with current chemical and physical recycling methods is that recycled plastics have lower quality, fewer re-use applications and a lower trade price than virgin plastic. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simplified, one-size-fits-all recycling process for all our plastic waste? My research looked into identifying novel microorganisms and enzymes capable of biologically breaking down plastic waste, in a field known as ‘plastic biodegradation’. This process breaks down plastic into monomers, the building blocks of plastic. Such monomers can then be cycled back into a recycling system to produce virgin-quality plastic, again and again, offering a circular economy solution. This interesting research identified new microorganisms and enzymes capable of partially degrading plastic.

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