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We use the power of microorganisms 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 ;)

Polyethylene (PE)
is a polymer composed of long
hydrocarbon chains

The outcome of

the process are
short chain alkanes  
that can substitute
fossil-based chemicals 

 

Microorganisms

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

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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. 

Non-plastics 
and high-targets

are removed

Heterogenous

plastic waste

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The Enzymes
degrade

the polyethylene

in a bioreactor

The waste gets

shredded into
smaller pieces

Pretreatment

with
abiotic methods

The alkanes 
could 
be used for
the
production

of (bio)plastics...

...or biofuels, oils 
and waxes

The other
materials 
can be
further processed 

Will the worms be used in the final process?

NO!

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!

It saves
the world!

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)

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It changes
perspectives!

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.

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It recycles non-
recycled materials!

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!

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SDGs? Yes, please!

What happened so far and what's next?

2020

2021

2022

Big Goal

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beworm starts 

its journey! 
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 stageWe discovered a novel bacteria strain and are currently preparing
for
incorporation &
a
pre-seed round!

 

Biotic

Recycling

System!

 

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.

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Eleonore Eisath

MSc Industrial Design
Team Lead & Management

Pepjin van Leeuwen
MSc Management
(current)

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Stefan Szalay

MSc Biology & Dipl. Ing. Electrical Engineering Technical Lead

Soukaina Mahfoud
MSc Financial Accounting
CFA Charterholder

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Verena Wolfarth
 MSc Biology 
Scientific Lead

Maria Khomich
MSc Management
(current)

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!

 

Who is supporting us?

Munich School

of Biomedical

Engineering 

Chair of
Microbiology
Prof. Liebl

Analytical 
Chemistry

Group

Prof. Strittmatter

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WOMEN

STARTUP!

Bioseparation Engineering Group

Chair of Synthetic
Biotechnology

WSSB

TUM

Venture Labs

ChemSpace

& FAB

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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!

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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!   

Adopt 

a Worm!

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You want to learn more about beworm and our research on
plastic pollution?

Book us for your event, conference, brown bag session or your grandma's 90th birthday!  

Become 
a Bioneer!

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You want to learn more about biotic recycling and what each of us can do against plastic pollution? 

Check out "The Plastics
Pop Up Podcast" - our podcast where you can get smarter in just 15 minutes.

Get more

Insights!

 
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Worm Wall of Fame

Here we want to honour our great worm adopters their contribution to fight plastic pollution! 

HARALD
adopted by Annegret
MINORIS OMNIPHAGEA
adopted by Juliane
OLAFFEL
adopted by Steffen
ALEX (TIRK) 
adopted by Lilli
HILDEGUNST VON MYTHENMETZ
adopted by Bernd
WORENZO
adopted by Lorenzo 
KAISER WURMHELM
adopted by Rene
OUROBOROS
adopted by Gwillem
WORMBERT
adopted by Maxim
WORMINATOR
adopted by George
WORMEGGA
adopted by Team Omegga
WORMY BEAR 
adopted by Marin
Louis
adopted by Lorenz
Rudolf Peter
adopted by Robin

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Thanks!