"Our biggest challenge in this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract—sustainable development, and turn it into a reality for all the world's people." -Kofi Anan.

The Sustainable Development Goals released by the United Nations can help us better solve real-world problems, and among the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals, we focus on 5 SDGs and make efforts to make them come to life.

SDG 4: Quality Education

Globally, educational attainment varies greatly between regions. In order to foster enduring and robust global development, it becomes imperative to undertake comprehensive efforts aimed at enhancing overall educational achievement. Within this framework, our endeavors have culminated in the creation of children's illustrated literature (Fig. 1) and online micro-lessons (Fig. 2), wherein PDF versions of these books and instructional video content have been disseminated via the internet. This strategic approach serves to facilitate access and enable diverse populations across disparate regions to engage in a profound exploration of scientific insights pertinent to plastic recycling, with a pronounced emphasis on PET plastics.

SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Plastic constitutes a category of low value waste, denoting items that possess recyclability potential but yield limited processing value. During our participation to a demonstration community specializing in low value waste recycling located in Suzhou, China, our team undertook the task of introducing our proprietary enzyme to community leaders (Fig. 1). Given their adeptness in judiciously amassing low-value waste, there exists a viable opportunity to supplant conventional incineration methods with enzymatic PET treatment (Fig. 2). This paradigm shift holds the promise of diminishing carbon emissions, thereby contributing to the establishment of a safe, tolerance and sustainable community environment.

SDG12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Sustainable consumption and production strive to achieve the objectives of "produce more, do better, and save more", improving quality of life while increasing the net welfare benefits of economic activity by reducing resource consumption, degradation and pollution throughout the life cycle. Within this context, our team embarked on a campus initiative to collect PET plastic bottles, subsequently employing the creative ingenuity of our members to metamorphose these bottles into an array of exquisite artworks (Fig. 1). These meticulously crafted items were subsequently retailed within the city, accompanied by the dissemination of both environmental awareness and information about our team's project (Fig. 2). Also, in our subsequent visions on the application of modified enzymes, we propose that the degraded PET monomer can be resynthesized into PET, or that new polymers, chemical additives, energy sources and new materials can be created by synthesizing the monomer (Fig. 3). In this way, the life cycle of PET use can be extended, its resource consumption can be reduced, and the net welfare of economic activity can be increased.

SDG14 and 15: Life Under Water/On Land

With the continuous development of modern life, plastic is widely used all over the world. While the harm of plastic waste to the environment is increasing, we've taken decisive steps towards bolstering ecological conservation through a two-pronged approach encompassing both wet experiments and human practice. In our human practice, we've harnessed the power of visual storytelling, as evidenced by our illustrative picture book which expounds upon the deleterious impact of white pollution upon our oceans, as seen through the eyes of a young protagonist. Additionally, our board games (Fig. 1) serve as dynamic educational tools, vividly portraying the detriments of plastic waste to the environment, thereby catalyzing a collective call to safeguard our water bodies and terrestrial landscapes (Fig. 2). Turning our attention to the wet experiments, we've embarked on pioneering endeavors centered around the utilization of enhanced enzymatic processes to degrade PET (Fig. 3). This strategic intervention holds the potential to substantially curtail the global accumulation of plastic waste, thereby averting the solidification of soil and the encroachment of land desertification.

SDG 16: Partnerships for the Goals

In the context of globalization, the close ties between regions can promote the expansion of knowledge fields. Our team took the initiative to contact a number of iGEM teams at home and abroad. Through the coordination of all parties, we successfully held the environmental protection and sustainable development summit (Fig. 1). In addition, we also reached a partnership with ZJUT in many aspects, such as the wet lab, human practice, and Wiki. In the future, we will continue to study the theme of PET degradation with our partners.

This year, we have established a close working relationship with ZJUT. We first learned through the CCiC Conference on the Internet that we are all tackling the problem of PET degradation, and then we started to establish a connection Then we often share each other's projects and laboratory progress through the WeChat app, Tencent conference, and email. The continuous discussions between our two teams contributed to improving each other's experimental design, modeling, and human practice. At the conference, both parties discussed the details of the experimental design and subsequent cooperation.

Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Summit

On July 18th, we organized the environmental protection and sustainable development summit and invited eight teams, including ZJUT (Fig. 2). Its purpose was to foster collaborative discourse surrounding the unique projects undertaken by each team, engendering a reciprocal exchange of ideas and insights. In the summit hosted by us, there were also many teams that modify PET enzyme as a project, such as NJTech-CHINA-A, ZJUT-CHINA, etc. In the exchange with them, we recognized the similarities and differences of the transformation process of each team and exchanged experimental experiences, such as in transformation, fermentation, and ultrasonic disruption protein. Through this summit, we have established a good relationship with many iGEM teams.

Bioremediation Themed Academic Forum

On August 5, we participated in the Bioremediation themed academic forum organized by ZJUT-CHINA (Fig. 3). At the meeting, we showed our work, and the two sides focused on the experimental design and human practice cooperation.

In the experimental part, initially, during the degradation process, ZJUT-CHINA intended to directly degrade pet with crude enzyme solution and observe its degradation speed. However, the experimental effect was unsatisfactory. Our team proposed to use a purified enzyme to degrade the PET and analyze the product by HPLC.

In our report, we pointed out that many bubbles would be generated during protein extraction, which affected the smooth progress of the experiment to a certain extent. ZJUT suggested changing the small system to the large system to avoid this situation. In the field of human practice, we have cooperated with ZJUT-CHINA, XJTLU-CHINA,OUC-Haide to complete a popular science podcast on biology. We hope to help more people learn about synthetic biology and promote iGEM in this way.

The 14th National Symposium on Enzyme Engineering

On August 19, we and ZJUT-CHINA jointly participated in the 14th National Symposium on Enzyme Engineering, learned about the most cutting-edge achievements in the field of enzyme engineering, and exchanged views after the conference (Fig. 4).

This communication is mainly focused on experimental operations and human practice. In the experimental part, we proposed that there are differences in enzyme expression between engineered bacteria in the logarithmic phase and the stable phase. Experiments can be carried out to confirm the optimal period. This gave us a lot of inspiration, so we began to develop a plan, taking the OD value of bacterial growth as an indicator and using the engineered bacteria at the best period of enzyme expression for experiments. After hearing our description, ZJUT-CHINA provided some suggestions for the preservation of our purified enzyme.

In the part of human practice, the two sides are stably cooperating to carry out a popular science podcast on biology. Therefore, the theme, form, and platform of the podcast have been actively discussed. At the same time, as we are tackling the problem of PET plastic degradation, we plan to jointly issue a joint questionnaire to collect more sample information and better promote the project.

Issue Questionnaire

We collaborated with ZJUT to write a questionnaire on plastic degradation, which consists of the current status of plastic pollution, people's awareness of plastic degradation, and people's views on the use of synthetic biology methods to degrade PET plastics. Finally, we obtained nearly 300 valid responses and valuable opinions and attitudes from the public. We will systematically and comprehensively study them in order to better conduct subsequent research (Fig. 5).

They also invited us to experience their wiki tool Wikibreeze (Website:https://2023.igem.wiki/zjut-china/software), and they have provided us with a lot of valuable advice during the experience.

Fig. 5 The questionnaire we created with ZJUT- CHINA.

Fig. 6 The biological podcast project.