It eats what?

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Today, I’d like to share an interesting article that I saw in Science News last week.  A team of scientists in England and the US have created a cocktail of enzymes that can actually break down plastic.

Enzymes are proteins that act as biological catalysts (biocatalysts) to accelerate chemical reactions.  There are thousands of known enzymes. Some are used by an organism to build things (like other proteins or DNA) – or they can help digest (break down) large molecules into smaller molecules.  This is actually how meat tenderizer works.

But back to plastic!

Previously this group engineered a faster version of PETase, an enzyme that they discovered breaks down the most common plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) back into its individual building blocks.  In other words, those single used water bottles, clothing, and carpets can be broken down in days, rather than in centuries.

Now, the same international team has combined PETase and its ‘partner’, a second enzyme called MHETase.  This combination works to break down plastic six times faster.

These findings could in the future help recycle plastic infinitely and reduce plastic pollution.

 

5 Comments

  1. Jean+De+Muzio

    Hi Carol, A couple of questions: Where can I get some of these enzymes to break down the plastic that my city does not recycle? Can individuals use these enzymes or do they have to be used carefully because they are potentially dangerous? Thanks!

  2. Larry

    Exposure works really well: sunlight, water, dirt and dust. I remember when they said styrfoam would never break down; it would be here forever. I haven’t seen any in over a decade and I like that 🙂

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