Plastic-eating enzyme could aid recycling

Tom Ravenscroft, 20 April 2018

Scientists have discovered an enzyme that can "digest" plastic and revolutionalise recycling, but environmentalists warn the "miracle" breakthrough should not make designers complacent about the need to reduce use of the material.

Image is by University of Portsmouth.

Image is by University of Portsmouth.

Scientists at the University of Portsmouth and from the US Department of Energy "inadvertently engineered" the enzyme that rapidly breaks down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – the rigid plastic commonly used to make drinks bottles.

The teams were investigating the structure of a naturally occurring bacteria that breaks down PET, when they accidentally engineered the new more efficient enzyme.

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