Scientists have accidentally saved the world…
…From our plastic pollution crisis.
As reported in the Guardian yesterday, Japanese Scientists who were conducting a research study of PET have made an incredible discovery which will hopefully contribute to ridding our world of the plastic waste crisis we have.
During their research on hundreds of samples of PET pollution, the scientists uncovered a colony of organisms using the plastic as a food source. This is thought to have been nature’s way of fighting back against the man made destruction being caused by dumping plastic in our seas for well over 70 years.
After this discovery, scientists Professor John McGeehan of the University of Portsmouth, and his colleagues, conducted further research on the bacteria. In doing so, they adapted the enzyme which created a super powered plastic eating enzyme!
Further research is required to be able to understand how this enzyme can be used most effectively because it’s current capability is limited to breaking down plastic materials into microfibres, so albeit this will help with some pollution particularly that are affecting marine life, it doesn’t necessarily help with the amount of plastic on Earth.
This discovery will definitely be a great tool to help with recycling plastic more effectively and hopefully the enzyme can be adapted further to completely eradicate plastic.
PET makes up almost one-sixth of the world’s annual plastic production of 311m tonnes. Despite PET being one of the more commonly recycled plastics, the World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that only just over half is ever collected for recycling and far less actually ends up being reused.
Definition of PET
polyethylene teraphthalate (PET)
High gloss, crack-resistant transparent plastic used largely in making carbonated beverage bottles. Classified as No. 1 Plastic.