Slashing CO2

Founded: 2020

HQ: London, UK

Plastic-eating enzymes.

Big Picture

Today only 10% of plastics are recycled. Even when plastics do reach recycling facilities, those that are mixed, dirty, unsorted, or untreated are often thrown out. Those that do get recycled are broken down with dirty, energy-intensive processes that yield lower quality products. Yet, as oil demand shrinks, fossil fuel companies are turning to plastics and hoping to triple production by 2050, eating up 15% of the remaining carbon budget in the process.

How it Works

Epoch is developing “tunable” biological processes that use enzymes to break down any combination of plastic waste into the precursor polymers for chemicals and materials. By feeding those polymers back into the same plastics production process, Epoch’s solution drops into existing infrastructure, effectively displacing fossil fuel feedstocks and enabling the profitable upcycling of plastics. 

Unfair Advantage

Based on the Nobel prize-winning directed evolution method, the biological process provides low-energy means to break down plastic waste and steer it toward reuse. The enzyme can be applied to mixed waste and break down a broad range of plastics without the need for cleaning, sorting, or treatment. The valuable outputs fed back into the production process create a truly circular solution


Trillion enzyme varients

sequenced per hour


Jacob was accepted to the University of Chicago but postponed attendance to build Epoch after discovering their first bacterium while researching as a high school senior.

Follow: @JacobNathan__


Doug is a Professor of Systems Biology at the University of Liverpool. He founded Aber Instruments and was the CEO of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Follow: @dbkell