New bio-recycling process awarded three times

Research in the area of bio-recycling at the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology (Georg Gübitz) has recently won three awards (Austrian National Award for Environment, Energy Globe Sustainable Plastics, Skarabäus).

The award winning process is based on the use of enzymes for the separation of the individual components in blended materials such as textiles of packaging. In this field the institute closely collaborates with industry and academic partners (e.g. Herka GmbH, ACIB, TU-Wien).


In the EU, around 10 million tons of textile waste (Austria: 112,000 t) end up in the residual waste and are incinerated. However, recycling is made more difficult by the fact that approx. 50% of the textiles consist of blended fabrics while packing materials like often are comprised of several components. In the TEX2MAT project, a strategy for recycling polyester-cotton blended fabrics from Herka-Frottier was developed. Thereby the cotton moieties are solubilized by means of enzymes while the remaining completely intact polyester fibers are recycled. The resulting glucose is converted into additives for textile production. Likewise, the viscose from flame retardant fabrics of packaging materials can be recycled using this strategy.

The enzyme based processes were developed at the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology and at ACIB and upscaled together TU-Vienna (Doz. Bartl) and with company partners. For these bio-recycling processes Georg Gübitz representing the research teams at BOKU and ACIB has also been awarded the Energy Globe Sustainable Plastics and the Skarabäus prize. Research in bio-recycling at the institute and at ACIB is currently continued in the teams of Doris Ribtisch, Sara Vecchiato und Felice Quartinello within three European projects.