Would you like
to support us?
The magic key
is in their guts!
We recycle the world's most used plastics
with the power of microorganisms!
Since 1950, humans have produced about 9 billion tons of plastics. Instead of recycling or reusing it, we thought it would be a good idea to litter in the environment. Well, we all know where that's headed. But nature came up with its own solution: In the last years research has documented over 90 different microorganisms that are able to break down plastics.
beworm wants to use these bioagents to develop a biocatalytic recycling process, that decompose the oil-based material polyethylene, the world's commonly used plastics, into precious basic chemicals. We are working with plastic-degrading bacteria that we isolated from waxworms (our spirit animals). But the real magic is done by enzymes in the microorganisms systems. Those enzymes are the key to the solution! That's why we are searching for them, aiming to develop a scalable, efficient and resource-saving process.
Our waxworms have shown awesome skills in our experiments, living and breeding on a plastics diet. We isolated their gut bacteria to find out what they are up too.
We are working with
PE-degrading bacteria from the waxworm and other sources.
Currently we are screening and analysing them, to find the degradation's key enzymes!
The magic key!
Enzymes act upon polyethylene as their substrate, and split it up.
Once we identify the hottest candidates, we can scale up!
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
But how does it work?
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.
As we isolated the PE-degrading bacteria from their gut it's much more reasonable now to analyse them and find the essential mechanism, which is a biocatalytic reaction caused by enzymes.
Enzymes are proteins produced by an organisms to break down things. Even you have plenty of enzymes in your body! And not everyones body produces the same enzymes, it depends on your genetics.
You surely have heard about the term Lactose intolerant - 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. ;)
Okay, but how will the final process look like ?
It will be a biocatalytic process that works in an industrial context! The best thing about it? It could be used in addition
to the current sustainable methods (like mechanical recycling) and substitute the less sustainable ones (like burning).
in a bioreactor
The waste gets
could be used for
...or biofuels, oils
materials can be
Is plastic pollution really such a big problem?
Uhhhm, yes it is. This is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one out of five trash islands floating around our oceans - and yes, this is its real size.
But this is a locked resource! We want to unlock it by turning it into raw material and make it valuable again!
We want to unlock this waste!
Got it, so what can I do about it?
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!
You want to support our
project cause you simply don't want the world to drown in plastics?
Adopt a worm for yourself or your loved ones to contribute to our research and a greener future!
You want to learn more about beworm and our research on
Book us for your event, conference, brown bag session or your grandma's 90th birthday!
Who are the Bioneers?
We are a dedicated team of biologists, engineers, designers and business people, almost all alumnis or students of the
Technical University of Munich. United by the same vision, we joined our forces to make a real impact.
MSc Industrial Design
Team Lead & Management
MSc Biology & Dipl. Ing. Electrical Engineering Technical Lead
Further Team Members
Pepjin van Leeuwen
MSc Robotics, Cognition,
Carlos Arévalo Villa
What happened so far and what's next?
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! Currently we are applying for research funding and preparing
for incorporation &
a pre-seed round!
Where is this magic happening?
Our main goal is to find out which bioagents are the most efficient for a PE-degradation process by experimenting with different organisms, bacteria and enzymes.
The Technical University of Munich
supports us with awesome lab spaces in Garching & Freising!
And why should I support you?
The beworm-project is ambitious, as it enters unknown terrain. Only a few teams worldwide are working on biotic and biocatalytic recycling systems. But we think that it could really make a difference, because it:
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 we call trash can be food for another form of live, you might start seeing it from an other 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!
Fine, you convinced me, how can I talk to you?
To solve the plastic problem, we need a systemic change!
No matter if you are a scientist, industry expert or ecolover - we are always looking for strong partners in the fight for a cleaner planet. Reach out to us using email@example.com and become a bioneer now!