The ENZYCLIC project combines biochemistry, chemistry and social sciences to accelerate develop of new technologies for recycling of plastics.

01 Dec 2021 - 01 Dec 2025

The Research Council of Norway

  • Plastics represent a fantastic resource, but also a large challenge for society. On the one hand, modern society cannot live without plastic products.

    On the other hand, its production from non-renewable resources is not sustainable and a large amount of plastic ends up polluting the environment every year. The only way to achieve sustainability for plastics is to develop technologies for efficient and environmentally friendly recycling.

  • In the current project we aim to develop new biotechnologies that will allow enzymatic degradation of plastics that currently cannot be recycled biochemically, like polyethylene, polypropylene and polyacrylate. This will be achieved by learning from nature, as there are both bacteria and insects that can digest these plastics. We will also transform enzymes that degrade materials that look like plastic (e.g. cellulose) to enzymes that degrade our plastic of choice.  One such enzyme family is the lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs), an enzyme activity discovered by Gustav Vaaje-Kolstad and co-workers in the PEP-group, NMBU. These enzymes cleave crystalline and insoluble polymers by an oxidative reaction and are the perfect candidates for degrading though plastic polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene. Evolving and improving enzymes towards plastic polymer degradation will be done using a technology called enzyme engineering.

    In addition to finding and developing new plastic-degrading enzymes we will make new types of plastics that maintain their usability, but that are easy to degrade by the enzymes we develop. The combination of these strategies will accelerate the introduction of enzymatic recycling of plastic in society.

    To obtain a better fundament for understanding the roles and opportunities of enzymatic plastic recycling in society we will also perform sustainability assessments and barrier analyses. The sustainability assessment will determine whether the existing technologies and methods developed in the project can be implemented in an economically, socially and environmentally feasible way. The barrier analysis will help us identify the most important challenges in society that hinder efficient implementation of new technologies as well as point at solutions for how to overcome these challenges.

  • Enzyclic project is a collaborative knowledge-building project (CKP) funded by the Norwegian Research Council. The purpose of a CKP is to develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges. The project is hosted by the Protein Engineering and Proteomics (PEP) group at KBM,  NMBU, and involves four partners and several national and international collaborators. The project is central in one of NMBUs five sustainability arena’s that focuses on the plastic problem end environmental biotechnology in general.


Research staff:

Kim Hed

Joakim Hauge

Jørgen Ingeberg

Ole Magnus Halvorsen

PhD student within metaomics and Post doc within enzymology

Martin Melvær

Benjamin Kleppe 

Ravindra Reddy Chowreddy

Trude Blekastad 

Extra staff funded by the PEP group and NMBU’s sustainability arena, including post-doc Madan Junghare (metaproteomics, enzyme discovery, enzyme characterization) and technicians Thales Costa and Anne Cathrine Bunæs.

Partners in private and public sector: