Estée Lauder is a name you expect to see at makeup counters, not in Plastics News. Perhaps it's time to reimagine that company's reach.
The cosmetics brand is the financial supporter of a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study that will send plastics to the International Space Station next year to conduct an experiment involving bacteria engineered to upcycle plastic.
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space selected the NREL project as part of the ISS National Laboratory Sustainability Challenge: Beyond Plastics, the laboratory said in a news release.
The project will see astronauts to expose a "mixture of oxidized plastic waste" — from an expanded polystyrene cup, a Dr Pepper PET bottle and a high density polyethylene milk jug — to an engineered strain of the bacteria pseudomonas putida.
NREL polymer scientist Katrina Knauer and Allison Werner, a cell and molecular biologist, will work directly with astronauts to prepare them for the experiments.
This isn't Estée Lauder's first investment in high-tech recycling programs for plastics. It is among the companies that have signed multiyear supply agreements to buy material from an Eastman Chemical Co. chemical recycling plant being built in France.