Chemo-Biological Upcycling of Poly(ethylene terephthalate) to Multifunctional Coating Materials

Hee Taek Kim, Mi Hee Ryu, Ye Jean Jung, Sooyoung Lim, Hye Min Song, Jeyoung Park, Sung Yeon Hwang, Hoe Suk Lee, Young Joo Yeon, Bong Hyun Sung, Uwe T. Bornscheuer, Si Jae Park, Jeong Chan Joo, Dongyeop X. Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Chemo-biological upcycling of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) developed in this study includes the following key steps: chemo-enzymatic PET depolymerization, biotransformation of terephthalic acid (TPA) into catechol, and its application as a coating agent. Monomeric units were first produced through PET glycolysis into bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (BHET), mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate (MHET), and PET oligomers, and enzymatic hydrolysis of these glycolyzed products using Bacillus subtilis esterase (Bs2Est). Bs2Est efficiently hydrolyzed glycolyzed products into TPA as a key enzyme for chemo-enzymatic depolymerization. Furthermore, catechol solution produced from TPA via a whole-cell biotransformation (Escherichia coli) could be directly used for functional coating on various substrates after simple cell removal from the culture medium without further purification and water-evaporation. This work demonstrates a proof-of-concept of a PET upcycling strategy via a combination of chemo-biological conversion of PET waste into multifunctional coating materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4251-4259
Number of pages9
Issue number19
StatePublished - 5 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) (NRF‐2020R1A5A1019631, NRF‐2020R1C1C1005719, and NRF‐2021R1A2C2011669). J.C.J. acknowledges that this study was supported by the Research Fund, 2021 of The Catholic University of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. ChemSusChem published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • biocatalysis
  • catechol
  • esterase
  • poly(ethylene terephthalate)
  • upcycling


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