Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident as posted in the Guardian recently on April 16th! The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.
The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug.
The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”
The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process.
“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”
About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”
Original link here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles
The Drawdown EcoChallenge is a fun and social way to learn about and take action on the 100 climate solutions featured in the seminal work of Paul Hawken “Drawdown.”
From April 4-25, individuals and teams from around the world will take part in simple daily activities to reduce their carbon footprints and delve into the world’s most substantive solutions to global warming. At the end of the Challenge, the teams with the most points will win great prizes, including copies of Drawdown and a one-hour video session with Paul Hawken!
The EcoChallenges are broken down into these sections (with an added note of current participants):
LAND USE (1260)
ELECTRICITY GENERATION (1751)
WOMEN AND GIRLS (1392)
BUILDINGS AND CITIES (1598)
Executive Director of Drawdown, Hawken states “All of life is comprised of self-organizing systems and the Drawdown EcoChallenge is exactly that—people coming together to share, learn, support, imagine, and innovate for a better world. We are honored to be a part of this significant and brilliant initiative.”
Visit http://www.drawdown.org/ecochallenge for more information!
Although we may already be familiar with Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup Project, and perhaps even the recent advancements in phase two, we can now ask how to get involved in a variety of ways. In his recently posted article on Business Connect World, John Hawthorne brings together the vision behind the international Ocean Cleanup Project. Here is an excerpt:
So, what’s the next step you can take to help the Ocean Cleanup Project, or just to help clean up our waterways, bodies of water, and expanses of fresh and saltwater? While it may seem unlikely, small efforts by individuals can make go a long way toward decreasing the garbage in our oceans.
When speaking specifically about the Ocean Cleanup Project, there are a few specific ways to help this foundation inch their way toward success.
First, you can simply help fund the cleanup. The foundation needs help bridging the gap between their first-system and the full-scale development of the plans they have to clean up the Pacific Garbage Patch. The foundation states that any amount helps to further their mission, so donating is certainly a great way to get involved.
Second, you can volunteer your time, skills, and efforts to the cause. According to their site, there are plenty of career, as well as volunteer, opportunities to work with the foundation.
Speaking generally, though, you can help reduce the amount of garbage in the ocean and contribute to solving the trash problem by making small dedicated efforts.
Reduce your use of single-use plastics
Avoid microbeads in cosmetic products
Back organizations that work to fight pollution and encourage ocean cleanup
Based out of the waterfront partnership of Baltimore, Maryland and going by the name “Professor & Mr. Trash Wheel” these devices are vacuuming plastic from our oceans much like a Roomba for waterways. They operate exclusively on the energy they get from sunlight and water. Collecting litter and debris, keeping trash from winding up in the ocean, the device uses two trash containment booms in order to direct the waste up a conveyor belt and into the dumpster barge on the other end.
Since being installed, the trash wheels have kept over one millions pounds of litter out of the Atlantic ocean!
Thanks again to @mchllsong for the share!
To visit a link to the YouTube video from Mashable go here;
Litterati, created by Jeff Kirschner, is a global community that’s crowdsource-cleaning the planet, from students in South Africa to activists in Italy, and neighbors across the US. They’re designing a mobile app that identifies, maps, and collects the litter that we pick up as a community, collecting a ton of data in the process, helping businesses and communities identify the root of the problem and drive change.
1. Groups: Understand Combined Impact (“Our most requested feature. Schools, environmental groups, scout troops, and companies, they all want to understand their combined impact to drive change for their communities.”)
2. Maps: Measure Actions Locally (“In-app maps will provide the ability to search, browse, and filter by location or brand, so that anyone can map and measure their impact while understanding more about the litter in their neighborhood.”
3. Data Analysis Tools: Drive Bigger Change (“The community has already picked up nearly 1,000,000 pieces and we want to put that data to work. These additional layers of information, like retail locations, trash can placement, even weather and topography, will help us make more informed decisions and take effective action.”)
Change is happening! Check out their app and kickstarter to get involved:
A startup in India is capturing the black particles that float in air pollution and turning them into ink.
Anirudh Sharma was at a conference in India when he noticed black particles accumulating on his white shirt. The specks settling on him were from pollution in the surrounding air.
Byproducts from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal are causing health problems and climate effects around the world, especially in India’s growing cities. In that moment a few years ago, though, Sharma saw the pollution particles as something simpler: A coloring agent.
He went back to MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a graduate student focused on augmented reality, and began working on an idea to turn carbon pollution into ink. Using candle soot to start, he came up with a prototype. After finishing his master’s degree, he went back to India and in 2016 co-founded a collaborative called Graviky Labs to continue working on Air-Ink and other ideas.
They developed a device that can be fitted onto the exhaust pipe of a car or portable generator and collected the soot that forms from burning diesel fuel. By mixing the fine black powder with solvents, they produced ink that then went into bottles and markers.
Kaushik says Air-Ink has a dual benefit: “It’s not just that we’re recycling that material into inks. What we are also doing is replacing the carbon black that otherwise would have been used to make black inks.” Manufacturers typically use the soot known as carbon black in rubber, ink, paints, and carbon paper.
After posting their endeavor on Kickstarter earlier this year, the team brought in $41,000—nearly three times the donations they sought to start producing Air-Ink in larger quantities. Through a sponsorship from a beer company, they’d already begun distributing the ink to artists, who created public pieces in London, Singapore, and other cities.
For the full article by Christina Nunez visit this link: https://relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/2017/07/chasing-genius-air-ink-carbon-pollution-graviky
Designer Daan Roosegaarde has installed the “largest smog vacuum cleaner in the world” in Rotterdam to help improve the city’s air quality. The seven-meter-tall structure is designed to create a pocket of clean air in its vicinity, offering a respite from hazardous levels of pollution.
According to the designer, it processes 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour – removing ultra-fine smog particles and pumping out clean air using no more electricity than a water boiler. “The Smog Free Tower produces smog-free bubbles of public space, allowing people to breathe and experience clean air for free,” said a statement from Roosegaarde.
Roosegaarde‘s Smog Free Tower was unveiled on 4 September 2015 at Vierhavensstraat 52, following a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project.
Among the global efforts to remove litter and material waste from our environment is the environmental conservation organization the Alcedo Sanitizing Force.
Based out of Bandar Lampung, Indonesia, these trash warriors introduce themselves as a “Bunch’o youngsters attemptin to banish plastic pollution from the ecosystem! We r the Sanitizers, we will neva surenda”.
Using a hand-made bamboo “ARP” to quickly and efficiently pick up trash they are well-equipped to fight pollution–not to mention the cool team outfit!
The Plastic Bank is an organization setting out to stop ocean plastic and poverty by turning waste into currency! The Plastic Bank is a root cause solution to prevent the flow of plastic into our oceans using Blockchain technology.
Partnering with IBM to unite & empower recycling ecosystems to safely transfer as much value as possible into the hands of collectors, Plastic Bank’s mission is to stop Ocean Plastic by gathering a billion people together to monetize waste while improving lives.
Plastic Bank was the featured solution to stop Ocean plastic in the award-winning documentary A Plastic Ocean. They received the prestigious Sustainia Community Award at COP21 during the Paris Climate Summit, the RCBC innovation award, and recently their new Blockchain exchange & incentives platform received an IBM Beacon Award.
Visit their website to find out more on how you can get involved, their work in Haiti and many other videos!