Meet John and Rosie, fighting plastic pollution with proteins – Unfolded
It all started with an email.
The world produces around 400m tonnes of plastic waste each year. Much of it ends up in landfill; a significant portion is polluting the world’s oceans. Conventional plastic recycling only degrades the material – in fact, most plastic items never fully disappear.
John McGeehan, Rosie Graham, and their colleagues at the Centre for Enzyme Innovation at the University of Portsmouth, are developing a different solution: a fully circular plastic economy, using enzymes to break plastic polymers down so they can be 100% recycled back to their initial state – or even upcycling degraded material back to the quality of virgin plastic.
As part of Unfolded, a series documenting the scientists using AlphaFold, we met John and Rosie at their labs in Portsmouth to find out how a chance email has accelerated this work.
Find more Unfolded stories at unfolded.deepmind.com