First Plastic Eating Bacteria To Solve Waste Pollution Problems
Plastic, as a material of use, has become a common fixture in our busy metropolitan lives. From packaging, toys, to even clothing, plastic is widely used in our day to day lives. It presents itself as a cheaper and at most times, a more logical choice when compared to other alternatives that can be used for the manufacturing of household goods.
Products made using plastic are lightweight and sturdy at the same time, but once discarded, because of its molecular composition, which makes it non-biodegradable, plastic can survive in the environment for a long time hence being a litter menace to the planet. But all that is about to change very soon. Recently, a team at Kyoto University has found a microbe that can chew away at plastic down at the molecular level, hence making it biodegradable.
After five years of searching through scores of samples, the team has isolated a bacteria that could live on poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), a common plastic used in bottles and clothing. They named the new species of bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis. The species fully breaks down Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which happens to be one of the most common strains of plastic produced today. Most common usage of PET is found in the packaging of bottled drinks.
According to estimates, over 70 million tons of PET plastic is produced every year around the globe, which takes close to 450 years to break down completely on its own. Plastic has as such become a major contributor to pollution today. This new breakthrough for good, could change the fate of the planet in the coming years.