We use the power of nature to recycle
the world's most used plastics!
beworm is developing a biocatalytic recycling process that decomposes plastic waste into natural 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 this bacteria split the plastics up into basic chemicals for the production new (bio)plastics or other petrochemical products - creating an infinite, closed-loop system!
To learn more watch our pitch 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 will be performed in a bioreactor containing the enzymes. It could be implemented in the current system, in addition to established 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
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.
Is plastic pollution really such a big problem?
Uhhhm, yes. 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 not only an enormous thread for the environment, it is also a locked resource - we want to unlock it by turning trash into raw material!
We want to unlock this waste!
Why is this project so important?
Every year, the world produces over 370 mio. tonnes of plastics - but only 12% of them are recycled properly. If we don't want to drown in plastic waste anytime soon, we need to develop new recycling technologies!
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!
SDGs? Yes, please!
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! We discovered a novel bacteria strain and are currently preparing
for incorporation &
a pre-seed round!
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 our forces to make a real impact in the plastic industry.
MSc Industrial Design
Team Lead & Management
Pepjin van Leeuwen
MSc Biology & Dipl. Ing. Electrical Engineering Technical Lead
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!
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!
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!
Worm Wall of Fame
This is the place where we want to honour our great worm adopters their contribution to fight plastic pollution!