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These Plastic-Eating Bacteria Could Help Cut Down on Waste

These Plastic-Eating Bacteria Could Help Cut Down on Waste

Recycling is so 20th century. According to one new study, there could be a new way to cut down on plastic waste: bacteria that consume one of the major components of our old bottles and clothes.

The study, published Thursday in Science, focuses on a newly-discovered bacterium called Ideonella sakaiensis. It was found outside of a bottle recycling plant, and it seems to have evolved a pair of enzymes it uses to break down polyethylene terephthalate or PET, a polymer so widely used to make plastic that about 50 million tons of it are made every year.

Because 311 million tons of plastics are produced worldwide each year — and very little of that amount makes it to recycling plants — scientists are always on the lookout for new, better ways of making PET break down when it inevitably ends up in landfills, but it's tough stuff.

Continue reading at The Washington Post

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