Techno-economic, life cycle, and socio-economic impact analysis of enzymatic recycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate)

Avantika Singh, Nicholas A. Rorrer, Scott Nicholson, Erika Erickson, Jason DesVeaux, Andre Avelino, Patrick Lamers, Arpit Bhatt, Yimin Zhang, Gregg Avery, Ling Tao, Andrew Pickford, Alberta Carpenter, John McGeehan, Gregg T. Beckham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

317 Downloads (Pure)


Esterases have emerged as important biocatalysts for enzyme-based polyester recycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) to terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG). Here, we present process modeling, techno-economic, life cycle, and socio-economic impact analyses for an enzymatic PET depolymerization-based recycling process, which we compare to virgin TPA manufacturing. We predict that enzymatically recycled TPA (rTPA) can be cost-competitive and highlight key areas to achieve this. In addition to favorable long-term socio-economic benefits, rTPA can reduce total supply-chain energy use by 69-83% and greenhouse gas emissions by 17-43% per kg of TPA. An economy-wide assessment for the US estimates that the TPA recycling process can reduce environmental impacts by up to 95%, while generating up to 45% more socio-economic benefits, also relative to virgin TPA production. Sensitivity analyses highlight impactful research opportunities to pursue towards realizing biological PET recycling and upcycling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Early online date15 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021


  • PETase
  • techno-economic analysis
  • life cycle assessment
  • enzymatic PET depolymerization
  • plastics recycling


Dive into the research topics of 'Techno-economic, life cycle, and socio-economic impact analysis of enzymatic recycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this