A mutant enzyme is going to help humanity recycle its plastic. Perhaps it will even save the world.
An international team of scientists has accidentally discovered a mutant industrial enzyme that has the most amazing ability - to break down plastic.
The research was conducted based on a 2016 study in Japan. In it scientists discovered a bacteria which, as it evolved, began to eat plastic. Since then, a series of experiments have been conducted in an effort to explain the mechanism by which the process occurs.
Something that can eat the plastic that's slowly but surely piling up on our planet - scientists are treading new ground here. The enzyme was discovered by accident, the mutant strain capable of breaking down plastics in days that would otherwise take centuries to do so in nature.
The best results have been shown with thin water and soda bottles. These also constitute a large percentage of the trash that's polluting our planet, good news indeed.
Every minute there's about 1 million plastic bottles sold around the world. Just 14% of these are recycled. Researchers have set a goal of successfully recycling most of the plastic using this bacteria with its ability to break down bonds on the molecular level.
The resulting enzyme was designed to be easy to use. The main challenge they face now is to create a natural way to recycle all of that plastic.
To do this they'll need to improve the enzymes' resistance to high temperatures because plastic breaks down much faster when heated.