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Scientists Develop Super-Enzyme That Degrades Plastic Within Days

Researchers have come up with a revolutionary plastic-eating enzyme that can break down plastic faster than anyone could imagine.

There are several types of compound plastic materials that are used the most. PET, for example, is ideal for carbonated drinks because it’s tough enough to withstand the pressure.

PET is recyclable, but most methods used today involve melting down the products, which requires a lot of energy and results in grey or black plastic that isn't as durable as PET.

According to Seeker, scientists have discovered bacteria that produce enzymes that can break down PET in its component parts. This not only allows recyclers to make plastic with the same properties as virgin PET, but also eliminates the emissions that come from melting plastic down.

The plastic-eating bacteria was found on a waste site in Japan. Their enzymes can decompose simple plastic in six weeks while PET takes a bit longer.

However, scientists have managed to re-engineer two enzymes into a more powerful, super-enzyme that can decompose PET six times faster than the naturally-occurring enzyme.

Even if scientists one day create a bacterial enzyme that eats plastic waste within seconds, it still may not be enough unless we change our habits — cut down on single-use plastic products and keep plastic out of the environment.

Watch the video from Seeker below:

Nikola uses his background in electrical engineering to break down complex sustainability topics for GreenCitizen's readers. He is a firm believer in environmental conservation, which he practices daily through recycling and home-grown food. He enjoys hiking, engaging in white-water sports, and collecting pocket knives.

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