Biorenewable and circular polydiketoenamine plastics
Amid growing concerns over the human health and environmental impacts of plastic waste, the most promising solution would be to build a circular plastics economy where sustainability considerations dictate the full life cycle of plastics use including replacing petrochemicals with biorenewables. Here we show that by incorporating the polyketide triacetic acid lactone (TAL) in polydiketoenamines (PDK) we increase the working temperature of these circular plastics, opening the door wider to applications where circularity is urgently needed. By varying the number of carbons of TAL-derived monomers, both polymer properties and recycling efficiency are affected. Simply using glucose as the main carbon source, we engineered a process for producing bioTAL under fed-batch fermentation. A systems analysis of this bioprocess under different scenarios quantifies the environmental and economic benefits of PDK plastics and the risks when implemented at an industrial scale, providing opportunities in biorenewable circularity.