Worshipful Company of Horners – 24th Horners’ Ralph Anderson Lecture

Thursday 4th November 2021

Royal Society of Medicine

Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth delivered a lecture entitled “Creating a Circular Plastics Economy with Engineered Enzymes”. The Senior Warden and I were, it’s fair to say, slightly concerned about our ability to grasp anything of what we were to be told. However, Professor McGeehan’s enthusiasm for his subject, and the clarity of his delivery, meant that the hour was engrossing. If I understood it correctly, Professor McGeehan and his team are researching ways in which PET (as used in, amongst other things, single-use plastic bottles and textiles) can be broken down by enzymes back into their original component parts, which can then be re-used to re-create new bottles, textiles, etc without having to resort to fossil derived components. It seems there are real and encouraging opportunities to use this technology to not only recycle PET more effectively and efficiently, but also to reduce our carbon footprint. It was a stimulating lecture, followed by a buffet supper, which all made for a fun evening.