This super enzyme created accidentally by scientists can eat and digest even the hard-to-recycle plastics
In 2016, Japanese researchers discovered a bacteria that could digest one of the nastiest plastic pollutants of our time – polyethylene terephthalate or PET. As PET is lightweight, colorless and extremely durable, it is widely used to make a variety of objects ranging from water bottles to polyester clothing.
Since the bacteria’s discovery, scientists at the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been trying to better understand how the bacteria is able to digest the plastic.
In the midst of their studies, the scientists accidentally created a super enzyme that is derived from the bacteria – except it is even stronger than the original. The enzyme currently has the ability to break down the plastic in a matter of days, as opposed to the centuries it would take to naturally degrade in the ocean.