A step closer to solving the plastics problem

£5.8 million has been awarded to the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) team to help find a solution to the problem of plastic waste.  The CEI will work towards finding solutions for the global plastics problems by engineering more efficient versions of PETase and other similar enzymes, to break down and recycle common plastic pollutants, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This will contribute to the University’s goal to lead in world-changing research and innovation and our commitment to solving sustainability and the environment issues. 

The PETase Solution

The pioneering research engineering a plastic-eating enzyme has been boosted through Research England’s prestigious Expanding Excellence fund via the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy. The University of Portsmouth have also heavily invested in the research. This will allow for the significant expansion of the CEI  including the recruitment of 13 specialists. 

Professor John McGeehan, Director of The CEI said:

I am delighted that Research England has awarded substantial resources to take our fundamental science through to real-world industrial and environmental applications. With a £5.8 million investment in our new Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we are now in a position to develop innovative recycling solutions for our most commonly polluting plastics.”

Unlocking Understanding – The CEI Research Pipeline

The success was announced by Universities and Science Minister of State, Chris Skidmore MP who said:

Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. This programme led by the University of Portsmouth will look at how enzymes can break down single-use plastics and help cut plastics pollution.

“The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry.

“Made possible through our record R&D spend delivered by our modern Industrial Strategy, the investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses.”

You can find out more about the CEI’s 3-phase research pipeline on the CEI webpage.

A collegiate effort 

This was a demanding and complex bid which presented a new opportunity and an exciting challenge for the University of Portsmouth to demonstrate its capability and potential through collegiate whole-University working. 

Members of staff from across the University, including research and innovation services, finance, human resources, marketing and communications, as well as key Science faculty staff, worked with research and academic members of the CEI to submit the successful bid. This fully committed and dedicated team worked tirelessly to shape the bid to meet the strict requirements and tight deadline.

The Future of the plastic-eating enzyme

This is a very exciting opportunity for the University of Portsmouth’s CEI to realise research ambitions to become a globally renowned research-led University and demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and the environment through revolutionising our approach to recycling plastics. 

Find out more about John McGeehan and the CEI team on the University of Portsmouth’s Meet the Mutant Enzyme that Could Help Combat Plastic Pollution webpage.