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RECYCLAGE  d'emballages plastiques

Green chemistry company Carbios signs a €7 million strategic collaboration with INRA at the Toulouse White Biotechnology research center

What if tomorrow, plastic waste became a reusable raw material with competitive costs for industries?
What if tomorrow, we could recycle plastic with new biological processes?
What if tomorrow, plastic waste became an opportunity for the industry and not a constraint?
Carbios and INRA, in the frame of Toulouse White Biotechnology, launched a major project to develop innovative biological processes in order to recycle plastics waste and produce competitive biopolymers (1).

Updated on 05/22/2017
Published on 04/12/2013

√ A successful industry-academia collaboration.

√ A strategic, structured partnership for Carbios, based on world-class expertise in enzymology.

√ Carbios will have exclusive world rights to the industrial exploitation of any patents obtained as part of the collaboration.

Carbios, a green chemistry company that specializes in innovative biological and industrial processes for recovering plastic waste and is developing competitive production processes for biosourced plastics and biopolymers, today announced the signature of a pivotal €7-million collaboration with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) at the Toulouse White Biotechnology (TWB) research center. The project is part of the THANAPLAST™ private-public consortium on plastics lead by Carbios and that brings together CARBIOS’ different corporate and academic partners (The CNRS, the INRA, the Université de Poitiers, Deinove, the Barbier Group, and the Limagrain Group).

The Carbios-INRA project will focus on the development of innovative bioprocesses for recovering plastic waste and producing biopolymers

Carbios and INRA are both members of the TWB(2) research center and will share know-how, expertise and human & technical resources over a five-year period. The goal is to develop effective biobased industrial processes that (as an alternative to conventional chemistry) add value to plastic waste and enable the production of economically competitive biosourced polymers.

The multidisciplinary collaboration will include R&D staff from TWB, the 3BCar Carnot Institute and two INRA groups (from the MICALIS laboratory in Paris and the Biological Systems and Processes Engineering Laboratory from INSA Toulouse, both of which are led by Alain Marty, Emeritus Professor of Enzymology). The INRA groups will focus on enzyme screening, enzymatic catalysis and cell engineering.

This project will enable Carbios to better address environmental, societal and economic issues concerning the recovery of plastic waste. Intensive exploitation of plastics means that over 100 million tons of plastic waste is generated worldwide every year. This alarming environmental issue has prompted a collective awareness of the need to find alternative production and consumption paradigms for a sustainable, environmentally responsible future. Carbios is developing innovative industrial solutions for transforming plastic waste into a novel, high-quality, renewable raw material for the plastics industry. The company offers a viable economic alternative to the depletion of agricultural resources (which might better be used to feed people) and the rarefaction of fossil fuels.

Carbios CEO Jean-Claude Lumaret commented that “although Europe generates almost 25 million metric tons of plastic waste each year, only 20% of that is recycled(3). The recovery of such an important renewable resource is a key business issue. We are delighted to have signed this partnership agreement with LISBP and Micalis – two INRA R&D groups that are internationally renowned for their know-how and expertise in enzymatic bioprocesses. By combining our skills and resources, the resulting synergy will be an impressive driver for innovation and the development of breakthrough industrial bioprocesses”.

François Houiller (President and Director General of INRA) added that "this exciting partnership with Carbios at TWB represents one of the highest-value collaborations ever between INRA and a start-up. Carbios has convinced us of their solid technical and industrial expertise. The collaboration will enable us to pool our know-how and will underpin applied research, with the shared objective of exploiting renewable resources”.

Pierre Monsan (founder of the TWB research center) concluded by saying “we are thrilled to welcome Carbios, a company that meets all our criteria for collaborative projects. TWB is promoting innovative industrial biotechnologies as part of its support for the emergence of a bio-economy based on renewable carbon.”

The €7 million collaboration will be included in the THANAPLAST™ consortium's overall budget of €22 million over five years. This consortium will bring together 60 researchers and will also receive €9.6 million in financial support from the French state innovation agency OSEO as part of the latter’s Strategic Industrial Innovation program. CARBIOS (as the project’s initiator and leader) will contribute most of the budget (€15 million) and will receive €6.8 million of the €9.6 million provided by OSEO.

THANAPLAST™ is seeking to create industrial value from plastics that have come to the end of their useful lives. The consortium will leverage biological catalysts with exceptional properties (e.g. resistance to heat, extreme pH and specific chemical reactions) and will develop and patent innovative technologies for producing, transforming and recycling a broad range of plastic materials.

(1) sourced from renewable feedstocks (plant biomass, etc.), rather than petrochemicals.
(2) Toulouse White Biotechnology is a world-class technological research center headed by Pierre Monsan and created under the aegis of an INRA/INSA/CNRS consortium. TWB’s mission is to help the French economy to effectively and sustainably reduce its dependence on oil by increasing the use of renewable resources. As a center of excellence, TWB focuses on strengthening the ties between basic research and industry. Its operating model is based on public-private partnerships with shared socioeconomic objectives.
(3) Source: April 2011, European Commission (DG Environment) – Plastic waste in the environment

Scientific contact(s):

Press Relations:
Alize RP, Caroline Carmagnol (+33 6 64 18 99 59), Alize RP, Christian Berg (+33 1 42 68 86 41), INRA Toulouse communication, David Charamel (+33 5 61 28 52 32), INRA News Office (+33 1 42 75 91 69)

Further information

Watch a presentation of the Carbios-INRA partnership (in French)



Download the press kit (in French): DP Carbios