Plastic pollution is a massive problem, and the problem has become so bad that scientists have even found melted plastic ingrained in rocks on remote islands in Brazil. The plastic buildup also continues to threaten our oceans. However, a newly discovered plastic-eating bacteria could help undo a lot of that damage.
The bacteria is a common type of bacterium known as Comamonas testosteroni and it is found in sewage and soil sludge. While it might not sound very pretty, this sludge-dwelling bacterium can eat plastic whole. A plastic-eating bacterium could be used to support recycling plastic efforts around the world.
With over 10 million tons of plastic being dumped into the oceans each year, and over 380 million tons of plastic being used once and then thrown away, the current state of how we handle plastics in the world is pretty dire. Scientists could improve plastic recycling by using a bacteria that eats plastic.
You’re not the only one who thought plastic recycling is much bigger than what it actually is. Many people believe that more plastic is being recycled than actually is. According to Plastic Oceans ,, only 9 percent of plastics are recycled. That means another 91 percent of plastic is still sitting there, rotting in our world and infecting our planet.
After examining the material closely, researchers found that it was able to not only break down plastics but also the detergent compounds. They say that the bacteria is a voracious eater of carbon, which these materials become when they are broken down.
Because the bacteria have a natural ability to break down plastics, the research team believes it could make an ideal candidate for large-scale recycling operations. The researchers published a paper on the findings in Nature Chemical Biology.
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