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
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.
- Support bans
- Reduce your use of single-use plastics
- Avoid microbeads in cosmetic products
- Back organizations that work to fight pollution and encourage ocean cleanup
Visit John Hawthorne’s FULL original article with a new video here: https://businessconnectworld.com/2018/02/21/the-ocean-cleanup-project/
CEF FFT: The environmental impact we have affects not only the living creatures inhabiting of bodies of water and land, but even the health of us human beings unto ourselves.
Thanks for the share John!
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!
Check out there IG: @asf_trash.warriors
Beginning July 1, 2018, restaurants in Seattle will no longer provide plastic straws and utensils to consumers. The reason for the ban is plain and simple: the waste that results from disposable plastic creates a cost that enterprises in the private sector do not subtract from the surplus value/price realization process but instead transfer to what the early 20th century British economist Arthur Cecil Pigou called in Economics of Welfare a “social cost.”
Think of how much plastic we could reduce every year if the biggest cities all committed to removing plastic straws from their economy!
(Photo Credit: Thomas Vimare)
Thanks to @mchllsong for the share!
Ocean Conservancy is the name, and international coastal cleanup is the game: “Harnessing the Power of People to Fight Ocean Trash”.
Nearly 12 million people and counting have been part of the world’s biggest volunteer effort to protect the ocean. Will you join us this year?
Today, plastic has been found in 62% of all sea birds and in 100% of sea turtle species.
A problem as big as plastic in the ocean requires a big response! By participating in the International Coastal Cleanup, you can make a difference. You’ll join millions of volunteers just like you, who love the ocean and want to protect it. This year’s International Coastal Cleanup is Saturday, September 16th, 2017.
Find a clean up near you on Ocean Conservancy’s website!
Yet again, we find ourselves turning back to “mother-nature” for answers with regards to environmental restoration.
Announced on BBC news only days ago, we’ve now discovered a caterpillar that munches on plastic bags could hold the key to tackling plastic pollution, scientists say.
Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that the larvae of the moth, which eats wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic.
Experiments show the insect can break down the chemical bonds of plastic in a similar way to digesting beeswax.
Each year, about 80 million tonnes of the plastic polyethylene are produced around the world.
The plastic is used to make shopping bags and food packaging, among other things, but it can take hundreds of years to decompose completely.
However, caterpillars of the moth (Galleria mellonella) can make holes in a plastic bag in under an hour.
Dr Paolo Bombelli is a biochemist at the University of Cambridge and one of the researchers on the study.
“The caterpillar will be the starting point,” he told BBC News.
“We need to understand the details under which this process operates.
“We hope to provide the technical solution for minimizing the problem of plastic waste.”
Visit the source link on BBC News for more information!