Plastic Trash Is Turned Into Edible Protein Using a ‘Generator’
Two American scientists have been awarded a prize of one million euros ($1.18 million) for developing a food generator concept that converts plastics into protein.
Ting Lu, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Stephen Techtmann, an associate professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, were awarded the 2021 Future Insight Prize for their study. Microbes are used to breakdown and turn plastic trash into food.
Merck, a German research and technology firm, is the prize’s sponsor. In 2019, global plastics output reached 368 million metric tons. The only drop in the last 60 years occurred as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, which halted global output as factories sputtered and shipping stalled.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 8 million tons of plastic are poured into the world’s oceans every year.
“This year’s Future Insight Prize winners have developed a game-changing technology that has the potential to generate a safe and sustainable source of food while reducing the environmental harms associated with plastic waste and traditional agricultural methods,” said Belen Garijo, Merck CEO and chair of the executive board.
“We congratulate Ting Lu and Stephen Techtmann on their excellent study, and we hope that the Future Insight Prize will aid in their progress,” he stated.
The two scientists worked on developing an efficient, cost-effective, and adaptable technique that finds a purpose for plastics that have outlived their usefulness and would otherwise end up in landfills or the oceans.
According to Merck, the resulting foods “contain all essential nutrition, are nontoxic, give health advantages, and allow for extra customisation demands.”
The researchers discovered how to take advantage of synthetically altered bacteria by genetically engineering them to transform waste into food.
It’s referred to as “microbial synthetic biology” by Lu. He believes that “designed gene circuits” can help progress a variety of biotechnology solutions to future global issues.
Environmental bacteria may catalyze a wide range of chemical processes, many of which could have industrial implications, according to Techtmann. “In my lab, we look at how complex microbial communities may work together to accomplish industrial functions.”
The two experts claim that their collaboration will enable them to “take the world’s plastic waste and turn it into something.” This is a condensed version of the information.