PRIN: Progetti di ricerca di Rilevante Interesse Nazionale – Bando 2020

The REPLAY project

The use of plastics is unavoidable in our society due to their unique mechanical properties and low cost compared to other materials. Regrettably, the biodegradation of traditional plastic is extremely slow and occurs only rarely and only in specific niches: most of the plastic waste is burnt for heat or landfilled, representing a loss of resources and creating a cascade of environmental issues.

REPLAY aims at the upcycling of PET from post-consumer plastic waste through sustainable depolymerisation and fermentation, as a principle to foster the reconnection of fossil resources with the biogeochemical cycles of elements and materials. Bringing together three Italian universities, the project will implement the use of systems and synthetic biology, (bio)chemical and (bio)process engineering to enable yeasts to convert PET into organic acids, thanks to a virtuous “Design-Build-Test-Learn” cycle.

Duration: 36 months

Budget: € 798.701

Funding: € 660.005

Project objectives

  • Discovery and optimization of novel PET hydrolysing enzymes (PHEs) to be used in enzymatic cocktails: production and characterization
  • PET hydrolysis by means of enzymatic, chemical and physical depolymerization
  • Design, construction and in silico assisted characterization of yeasts utilizing PET degradation products for the production of muconic and citric acid isomers
  • Implementation of the overall process, from real PET through assisted chemo-enzymatic hydrolysis and yeast fermentation to organic acids
  • Dissemination and Communication of the scientific outcomes and applicative returns

Meet the project partners!

Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca – IndBioTech Lab (

Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II – Dipartimento di Biologia (

Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro – Dipartimento di Bioscienze, Biotecnologie e Ambiente (

Publications and media

Replay Project Flyer

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