On March 20, 2024, the European Federation of Biotechnology organized a virtual conference about the plastics challenges and solutions that counted on the presence of three partners from the UPLIFT consortium.

The recent conference delved into the pervasive reliance of society on plastics across various facets of daily life, from furniture and packaging to clothing and electronics. Despite their ubiquitous presence, the majority of plastic waste remains unrecycled, posing a significant environmental threat as it degrades into harmful nanoparticles.

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, numerous companies worldwide are innovating biobased alternatives that not only compete economically but also minimize environmental harm. With a focus on biotechnology, the conference, held in collaboration with the Asian Federation of Biotechnology, explored the development and applications of these new materials, emphasizing enzymatic processes, biodegradability, and the environmental impact of plastics.

In this context, our project coordinator Cristiano Varrone from Aalborg University gave a presentation in the framework of the enzymatic depolymerization of post-consumer plastic waste conducted in the UPLIFT project. Additionally, Nick Wierckx, from Forschungszentrum Jülich gave a keynote lecture about establishing polyamides as novel feedstock for microbial biotechnology. Last but not least, Alessandro Pellis from BOKU introduced new biobased materials through selective enzymatic catalysis.

In conclusion, the virtual conference organized by the European Federation of Biotechnology shed light on the pressing issue of plastic waste and showcased promising solutions from the UPLIFT consortium. With concerted efforts in enzymatic depolymerization and the exploration of novel biobased materials, there is optimism for mitigating the environmental impact of plastics and moving towards a more sustainable future.