We use the power of nature to recycle
the world's most used plastics!
beworm is working on the development of a recycling process, that decomposes plastic waste into raw materials. We isolate plastic-degrading bacteria from our beloved be(e)worms to degrade polyethylene, the world's most used plastic material. The enzymes produced by these bacteria have the potential to split the plastics up into basic chemicals used for the production of new plastics or other petrochemical products - creating an infinite, closed-loop system!
To learn more, watch one of our pitches
or just keep rolling with the scrolling :)
is a polymer composed of long hydrocarbon chains
The outcome of
the process are
short chain alkanes
that can substitute
like fungi and bacteria
produce enzymes that can break up polymers like PE
The enzymes act on polyethylene as their substrate and degrade the material
How does biocatalytic recycling work?
How will it be scaled up for the industry?
The process shall be scaled up and performed in a bioreactor containing the bioagents. It could be implemented in the current system, in addition to mechanical recycling - and substitute the less sustainable processes, like burning.
in a bioreactor
The waste gets
could be used for
...or biofuels, oils
materials can be
Will the worms be used in the final process?
Experimenting with the worms was our starting
point, but they are not suitable for the big scale
degradation process that we are aiming for.
Now that we are able to isolate PE-degrading bacteria from their gut it's much more reasonable to analyse the bacteria directly and find the essential mechanism, which is a biocatalytic reaction caused by enzymes.
Enzymes are proteins produced by organisms to break down things. Even you have plenty of enzymes in your body! And not everyone's body produces the same enzymes, it depends on your genetics.
You surely have heard about the term Lactose intolerant before - this means that your body doesn't produce enough of the enzyme lactase, that is capable of breaking down the milk sugar lactose. Now that's something you can drop at the next party small talk! You're welcome.
Is plastic pollution really such a big problem?
Uhhhm, yes. This is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one out of five trash swirls floating around our oceans - and yes, this is its real size. It currently contains about 1.800.000.000.000 pieces of plastics. That's definitely too many zeros in a row.
But this is not only an enormous threat for the environment, it is also a locked resource!
We want to unlock this waste!
Do you want some more scary numbers?
Every year, the world produces over 390 mio. tonnes of plastics -
but only 9-12% of them are recycled properly, the rest gets landfilled, burned or littered.
If we don't want to drown in plastic waste anytime soon,
we need to develop new recycling technologies!
4.9 Bn. t
2.4 Bn. t
mass of plastics
in the environment
mass of all humans
and animals in the world
Why is this project going to make a difference?
Okay, maybe that's a bit exaggerated :)
But it saves resources, as it doesn't consume a lot of energy. Recycling polyethylene and producing recovered feedstock could reduce the need for virgin fossil fuel and the production of CO2
(by preventing incineration)
If you understand that something that something we call trash can be food for another form of life, you might start seeing it from a different perspective.
Plastic is not the enemy, it's the way we handle it that causes so many problems! If we start seeing it as a source of value, things are
going to change.
It recycles non-
PE is the world's most used plastic material, processed in many goods we use on a daily basis .
But only HDPE can be well recycled. LDPE is hardly recycled when it
is part of a multilayer, dirty or colored. Providing a working recycling system for those products
would be a game changer!
SDGs? Yes, please!
What happened so far?
The team moves
into the TUM Entrepreneurship Center and achieves a first Proof-of-Principle
beworm gets a
second lab at the
Innovation and Technology Center FACIT and identifies some promising plastics-eaters
beworm reached the Proof-of-Concept stage!
We discovered a
novel strain of bacteria &
55 further microbes!
Who are the Bioneers?
We are a dedicated team of biologists, engineers, designers and business people, almost all alumni or students of the
Technical University of Munich. United by the same vision, we joined forces to make a real difference.
MSc Industrial Design
Team Lead & Management
MSc Biology & Dipl. Ing. Electrical Engineering
MSc Biology & PhD Student
Do you want to support our mission?
Building a biotechnology solution is not like building software, where all you need is a laptop. We will need time, guts and money - but we are up for it! Help us to accelerate and support us by using one of our great additional offers!
Worm Wall of Fame
This is the place where we want to celebrate our great worm adopters and their contribution to fight plastic pollution!
Every crawl versus a more sustainable future is important!