Researchers have managed to improve the properties of an enzyme so that it eats plastic six times faster than before.
It writes several media outlets, including The Guardian and CNN.
The researchers linked the enzyme, called PETase, to another enzyme. Together, the two enzymes dramatically speed up the process, according to a study from the University of Portsmouth.
The “superenzyme” can drastically shorten the degradation process of the PET plastic type. PET is found in drinking bottles, textiles and clothing. Instead it takes several hundred years to break this down in nature, it can break down in a few days.
The hope is that the enzyme can contribute to the process of recycling millions of tons of plastic.
Recycling within one or two years
“We are actually quite surprised that it worked so well,” Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth told CNN.
According to McGeehan, they have received funding to carry out several experiments. The successful project may mean that PET can soon be recycled instead of using fossil fuels to make new plastic.
“It will lead to us saving enormous amounts of energy,” says McGeehan.
The researchers also believe that if they link the bacterium with enzymes that break down cotton, it can be used to recycle clothes made from blended fabrics and fabrics.
Today, millions of tons of clothes are dumped or burned.
Eight million tonnes of plastic in the sea
Annually, around 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea, according to figures from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). This corresponds to 15 tonnes of plastic per minute.
We also know that humans and animals ingest and inhale microplastic particles.
About one million plastic bottles are sold every single minute in the world, and only 14 percent are recycled.
The researchers at Portsmouth hope that the enzyme can transform plastic back into its original components, so that it can become new plastic bottles again.
The plastic bottles that are recycled today can only be turned into opaque fibers for use in clothing and carpets. The superenzyme will make it possible to make new plastic bottles.
The researchers’ first breakthrough came in 2018 after a plastic-eating bacterium was discovered on a Japanese rubbish heap. The researchers published a engineered version of the enzyme in 2018, which broke down plastic in a few days.
But now the enzyme works six times faster than two years ago.
While reading this article has it ended up0,0 tonsplastic in the sea
That equates to 0 bottles or 0 diapers.
Take the quiz and save the whale