Plastic Eating Bacteria Could Help Fight Against Plastic Pollution

The plastic bottle you drank two years ago will still be around after three hundred years. More and more plastic is ending up in our oceans. It’s one of the key reasons why plastic pollution, which is killing many species, is a serious problem.

Scientists recently discovered a strain of bacteria that can eat plastic used to make bottles. The enzyme found in the plastic eating bacteria has now been mutated for the enhanced capability to eat Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastic.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in UK and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US believe that significant improvement can be made in the speed at which the bacteria devour the plastic. The remarkable study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s incredible because it tells us that the enzyme is not yet optimized. It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme,” John Mcgeehan, who is a co-author at the University of Portsmouth told the media.

The detrimental impact of virgin plastics on the environment is becoming increasingly clear. Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, a plastic alternative campaigning organization, believes designers should come up with innovative solutions to reduce their use of plastic. Gutsch describes plastic as a design failure.

Called PETase, the naturally occurring bacteria was discovered in a Japanese recycling center in 2016.  The scientists who studied the bacteria created an “ultra-high-resolution 3D model” using a microscope at the Diamond Light Source facility in Oxfordshire, England, which is powerful enough to see an atom. It was discovered that the bacteria had some unusual features which made it easier to break down PTE far more efficiently than natural bacteria.

“Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research and our discovery here is no exception,” said Professor McGeehan.

The discovery of plastic eating bacteria isn’t new. In 2016, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered a soil fungus which eats plastic.

In 2000, 300 plastic drinking bottles were bought. Today, 20,000 plastic bottles are bought each second. According to Euromonitor International, 583.3 billion plastic drinking bottles will be bought in 2021. It’s a shame that instead of choosing to change our consumption patterns, we are holding onto high hopes on studies about plastic eating bacteria.

Avatar
Anna Domanska
Anna Domanska is an Industry Leaders Magazine author possessing wide-range of knowledge for Business News. She is an avid reader and writer of Business and CEO Magazines and a rigorous follower of Business Leaders.

Recent Posts

Elior acquires Nestor, the single meal food delivery startup

Elior acquires Nestor, the single meal food delivery startup

Elior, the corporate catering company, has acquired the French startup Nestor for an undisclosed amount. Nestor, a Paris, France-based food delivery service, started in 2015 with a
22 hours ago
Axa gears to buy office space worth €800m in European cities

Axa gears to buy office space worth €800m in European cities

Axa Investment Managers, the French fund house, is not too worried about predictions that the post-pandemic world will see more people working from home and office real estates shr
1 day ago
ShareChat raises $502 million at $2 billion valuation

ShareChat raises $502 million at $2 billion valuation

ShareChat, the Indian owner of short video app Moj, has raised $502 million in the series E round of funding, pushing its value at $2.1 billion in the market. The five-year-old com
2 days ago
Small business groups form coalition to lobby for strong antitrust laws

Small business groups form coalition to lobby for strong antitrust laws

Small merchant groups are coming together to rally for strong antitrust laws to prevent big conglomerates like Amazon from swallowing up the smaller traders and businesses. Trade g
2 days ago
Vitol’s profit soars during 2020 oil crisis

Vitol’s profit soars during 2020 oil crisis

The world’s largest independent oil trader Vitol made record profits in 2020 as the fluctuations in the global energy markets resulted in a windfall. Vitol suffered an $85 billio
3 days ago
Seadrill proposes debt write off of $4.8 billion

Seadrill proposes debt write off of $4.8 billion

Seadrill Ltd., a deepwater drilling contracting company, owned by billionaire John Fredriksen, said it is ready to write off a debt of over $4.8 billion, giving lenders a 99 perce
4 days ago