Development of a fungal biotechnological process for enzymatic textile recycling
Development of an eco-efficient process for enzymatic textile recycling based on fungal biotechnology
Textiles are an underestimated problem for the environment and climate, as there is currently no functional recycling process. This is why fibre, fabric, and clothing waste ends up almost exclusively in landfills or waste incineration plants. The large number of materials, such as polyester or cotton, and especially blended fabrics make recycling difficult, so that polyester fibres are either made from fossil raw materials or produced to a small extent from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. Fibre-to-fibre recycling is rarely to almost never practised, particularly because conventional methods such as (thermo-)mechanical or chemical recycling lead to significant losses in material quality and/or high levels of by-product formation.
Bild von Freepik
For this reason, enzymatic processes are gaining in importance, in which individual polymer types are selectively degraded to their monomers under mild conditions. The degradation products can then be used to produce fibres of the same quality. Nevertheless, the problem of such a biological recycling process is the efficient production of the necessary enzymes. In this project, an eco-efficient process for textile recycling will be developed, in which genetically modified filamentous fungi use cotton as an inexpensive substrate to produce engineered enzymes for polyester degradation. This would close the loop and enable fibre-to-fibre recycling.
This project is supported and financed by the ‘Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt’.