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Biotechnological Solutions for Recycling Synthetic Fibers
1 , 2 , 2 , * 2
1  Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences and Arts, 33619 Bielefeld, Germany
2  Department of Clothing Technology and Garment Engineering, Berlin University of Applied Sciences-HTW Berlin, 12459 Berlin, Germany
Academic Editor: Nunzio Cennamo


Enzymes are used in textile manufacturing as eco-friendly alternatives to harsh chemicals, selectively breaking down specific chemical bonds in polymers for the extraction of purer monomer building blocks. However, efficient enzyme-based recycling is dependent on the specific polymers involved, as different enzymes target different synthetic fibers. Challenges arise when suitable enzymes are not yet discovered, or when fiber blends hinder accessibility and efficiency. Consequently, the adoption of biotechnological solutions becomes imperative. Biotechnology offers the potential for selective depolymerization of both natural and synthetic fibers, isolating constituents or recovering monomers. This advancement addresses the complexities associated with regenerating monomers from synthetic fiber blends, particularly in circumstances involving contaminated or mixed fibers. Furthermore, upcycling discarded fiber products into higher-value items not only diverts waste from landfills but also creates economic opportunities and reduces the demand for new polyester production. The focus of this paper is to explore the potential of biotechnological solutions for enhancing the efficiency of synthetic fiber recycling.

Keywords: biotechnological recycling; synthetic fiber recycling; enzymes; eco-friendly alternatives; textile manufacturing; upcycling, fibers
Comments on this paper
Debbie Newman
Great research. As I know, enzymes can be used to break down synthetic fibers into their basic building blocks, such as monomers or oligomers. For example, some enzymes like cutinases and esterases have shown potential in degrading polyester-based fibers like PET (polyethylene terephthalate). By enzymatically breaking down the fibers, it becomes possible to recycle the materials more effectively. Moreover, certain microorganisms have the ability to metabolize synthetic fibers. Researchers have discovered bacteria that can degrade and utilize polyester-based materials like PET as a carbon source. By harnessing the metabolic capabilities of these microorganisms, it may be possible to develop bioremediation strategies for recycling synthetic fibers. Thanh for sharing.
Debbie Newman
Moreover, as I researched, instead of breaking down synthetic fibers into their constituent components, biotechnological processes can convert them into other useful products. For example, some bacteria and fungi can convert synthetic fibers into biofuels, such as methane, or ethanol, through a process called anaerobic digestion. This approach provides a sustainable and energy-efficient method for recycling synthetic fibers.