Plastic-eating bacteria will reduce pollution

Nowadays, polyurethane is used in almost everything from mobile phone covers to bed foam. It is difficult to recycle and accumulates in waste. As a result, environmental pollution increases. But hopefully, researchers have found a great solution for this problem, like a science fiction story.

They invented a type of ‘self-digesting plastic’, which starts to self-destruct when damaged.

Han Sol Kim, a researcher at the University of California San Diego in the United States, said that through this discovery, we can reduce plastic pollution in nature.

Products made from polyurethane.  Photo: CollectedBiodegradable plastic made in laboratory. Photo: Collected

Their research report was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

It is known that by adding spores of plastic-killing bacteria, researchers have created a plastic that will self-destruct. The spores will remain dormant throughout the shelf life of the plastic. But when the waste comes into contact with the composting material, they will come back to life and start digesting the plastic material.

In addition, the researchers hope that the spores of these bacteria will also increase the strength of the plastic.

“Our process makes plastic materials harder,” said project co-researcher John Pokorski. This further increases its useful life. Then when the time is up, we can eliminate it from the environment, however it was disposed of.

He said that work on ‘self-digesting’ plastic is still going on in the laboratory. But within a few years, it may step into the outside world.

The bacteria associated with plastic is Bacillus subtilis. It is widely used as a food additive and probiotic.

Note that the bacterial spores must be genetically engineered to withstand the high temperatures required to produce plastic.

Biodegradable plastic made in laboratory.  Photo: CollectedBiodegradable plastic made in laboratory. Photo: Collected

However, not everyone agrees with the conventional concept of biodegradable plastics. Some scientists believe it is best to reduce the amount of plastic used first.

Professor Steve Fletcher, director of the Revolution Plastics Institute at the University of Portsmouth, said the most effective way to tackle plastic pollution is to agree to reduce global plastic production through legal obligations.

He said, such potential solutions can give the impression that we should worry less about plastic pollution. Because the plastics spread in the environment will be destroyed quickly and safely. However, this is not the case with most plastics. So, this needs to be taken care of.

Source: BBC