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Possibilities and limitations of biotechnological plastic degradation and recycling

Considerable research achievements were made to address the plastic crisis using biotechnology, but this is still limited to polyesters. This Comment aims to clarify important aspects related to myths and realities about plastic biodegradation and suggests distinct strategies for a bio-based circular plastic economy in the future.

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Fig. 1: The envisaged bio-based circular plastic economy.


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The authors R.W., T.T., K.O'C., L.M.B. and U.T.B. acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 870294 for the project MIX-UP. The author J.B. acknowledges financial support for the Plastikbudget project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under grant no. 01UP1702A. The authors thank Dr. Elvis Genbo Xu from the University of Southern Denmark for his professional advice on microplastic pollution.

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R.W., L.M.B. and U.T.B. initiated the article. R.W., T.T., J.B., K.O'C., L.M.B. and U.T.B. were involved in the conceptional design, literature analysis, writing and editing of the Comment.

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Correspondence to Lars M. Blank or Uwe T. Bornscheuer.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Wei, R., Tiso, T., Bertling, J. et al. Possibilities and limitations of biotechnological plastic degradation and recycling. Nat Catal 3, 867–871 (2020).

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