BIOCLEAN - New BIOtechnologiCaL approaches for biodegrading and promoting the environmEntal biotrAnsformation of syNthetic polymeric materials

FP7 Collaborative project, topic KBBE.2012.3.5-02: Biotechnological solutions for the degradation of synthetic polymeric materials (The Ocean of Tomorrow)


In this project, novel and robust microorganisms (i.e., aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and fungi) able to attack polyethylenes, polypropylenes, polystyrol, polyethers and polyvinyl chloride and/or polyesters will be isolated from actual-site aged plastic wastes obtained from landfills, terrestrial and marine sites and characterized for their biodegradation potential, mechanism and taxonomy. A large number of microbes from existing bacterial and fungal collections as well as robust hydrolytic enzymes already available in the labs of the project partners will be screened for their ability to degrade/cometabolize the target polymers. The breakdown mechanisms of the most biodegradable polymers by the selected microbes will be investigated under defined aerobic and anaerobic conditions and via an integrated methodology, relying on advanced analytical methods (i.e., NMR, HPLC-MS, FT-IR, GPC, etc.) coupled to tailored microbiological and ecotoxicological monitoring methods. This to determine biodegradation rate, extent and pathway by which major polymers are biodegraded and the potential impact of the produced metabolites on target environmental biota. The opportunity to have controlled depolymerisation of some polymers by selected enzymes to get oligomers to be reused in new or hydrid polymer production will be studied. The impact of mechanical, physical-chemical (i.e., UV, O3 and γ radiation) and thermal pretreatments on the biodegradation rate, yields and pathways of the target polymers by the active microbes will be determined by using the same methodology. Pilot scale bioremediation processes relying on the exploitation of the most active microbes in slurry phase stirred thank bioreactors, solid-phase fermentation schemes and composting will be developed and assessed for each basic or pretreated polymer. SMEs dealing with the pretreatment, innovative biotreatment and composting of polymers will be actively involved in the project. Stakeholders and associations dealing with the collection, storage and reuse of polymers will be also involved in the project.

Durata del progetto/Project duration

2012 - 2015

Unibo Team Leader

Fabio Fava


Fabio Fava - Alma Mater Studiorum - Universita di Bologna (Italy)


  • Alma Mater Studiorum-Università di Bologna (Italy)
  • University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (Switzerland)
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Germany)
  • Technical University Of Crete (Greece)
  • MADEP SA (Switzerland)
  • Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau (Germany)
  • University of Ostrava (Czech Republic)
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)
  • Polish Academy of Sciences Centre of Polymer and Carbon (Poland)
  • Organic Waste Systems (Belgium)
  • Felsilab S.r.l. (Italy)
  • Biobasic Environnement (France)
  • Environmental Protection Engineering S.A. (Greece)
  • Nanjing University (China)
  • Inter-Municipal Corporation For Solid Waste Management Of Chania (Greece)
  • Maritim Miljø-Beredskap AS (Norway)
  • SIMA-tec GmbH (Germany)
  • PlasticsEurope (Belgium)
  • Havforskninginstituttet (Norway)


Euro 2 995 988

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