Last week Waste Management announced their sponsorship of University of Auckland research into harnessing enzymes with the potential to degrade plastic as part of their ongoing commitment to sustainability.

The research was presented at the iGEM Giant Jamboree held in Boston on the weekend.

The University of Auckland team was the first from New Zealand to attend the iGEM Giant Jamboree in Boston, Massachusetts. iGEM is an annual international synthetic biology competition aimed at university students worldwide who are working on projects with the aim of making a positive contribution to the community.

Grace Borichevsky, Chief Scientist for the University’s team says she is excited about the potential of the research to make a real environmental difference and is very pleased to have Waste Management’s support.

“Participating in the iGem Giant Jamboree is an excellent opportunity to showcase the biotech expertise we have here in New Zealand. We hope that our success will raise awareness of this innovative field of science.”

The aim of the team’s research is to synthesise and secrete a plastic-degrading enzyme that will ultimately improve recycling.

Our Lower North Island General Manager David Howie says that sponsoring the research team and the trip to the iGEM conference is an opportunity to contribute to future environmentally-friendly practices.

“Research suggests that more than 25,000kg of plastic waste is discarded every day in New Zealand and only about 7% is currently recycled. If we can find a way to enhance plastic recycling it will make a significant contribution to reducing New Zealand’s waste.

“The University of Auckland team is passionate about sustainability and want to use biotechnology to make the world a better place. Sustainability is a core focus for Waste Management so a partnership between us makes perfect sense.”