October 09, 2020
The invention of plastic changed the world, unfortunately not always for the better. Plastic waste can be found in every corner of the globe. Researchers have been working for decades on new and more efficient ways to break down and recycle plastic and they have just had a breakthrough, bacterial enzymes.
In adapting to new environments, the genetic material of some bacteria has been tweaked by the process of evolution to create enzymes capable of breaking down this modern food source: plastic. Researchers have now been able to create a ‘super-enzyme’ by linking two separate enzymes from a bacterium first discovered in a Japanese landfill in 2016. This engineered super-enzyme is capable of breaking down plastic six times faster than when they are unlinked.
It is hoped that this super-enzyme will be able to make a huge impact on plastic waste, but there may be other options too. One idea the researchers have is to combine it with enzymes that break down cotton to help with mixed fabric recycling which is currently not possible. The team is currently building two testing centres and hope to start using this super-enzyme within the next year or two to start combatting plastic waste.
Learn more here: http://ow.ly/MMAj50BG1JA