Open Plastic – an open science consortium for a circular plastics economy

Date: January 19, 2024 12:00 pm (ET)


  • Laurence Yang
    Queen's University

Speaker: Laurence Yang, Chemical Engineering Queen’s University

Title: Open Plastic – an open science consortium for a circular plastics economy

Abstract: OpenPlastic seeks to accelerate a zero-waste future for plastics. This public-private consortium of academics across five Canadian universities (and the labs of 20 investigators), industry and municipalities is harnessing genomics to create a circular economy for plastics. We are discovering and engineering microbes and enzymes to biochemically convert plastics into recyclable components or valuable chemicals. We holistically assess the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of integrating these biotechnologies into the plastic value chain. This talk will provide an overview of Open Plastic’s research progress on five fronts: (i) genomics and metagenomics to discovery plastic degrading biochemical pathways, (ii) engineering thermostable enzymes for hydrolyzable plastics and polyolefins, (iii) process engineering, including mechanoenzymatic approaches to improve recycling, (iv) spectroscopic and microfluidic approaches for detection and monitoring, and (v) life cycle assessment of plastics recycling.


Bio: Dr. Laurence Yang is an assistant professor of Chemical Engineering and Queen’s National Scholar in Systems Biology at Queen’s University. He leads Open Plastic, an open science consortium connecting over twenty professors with a network of companies and municipalities to innovate toward a circular plastics economy. Dr. Yang has a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto. Prior to joining Queen’s, he worked at synthetic biology company Intrexon Corp. and completed postdoctoral training at UCSD Bioengineering. Based on his computational biology expertise, he consults regularly for companies in the gene therapy, synthetic biology, and biomanufacturing sectors.