Hungry bacteria that could solve the problem of plastic waste

Scientists have discovered bacteria that can digest PET plastic extremely quickly and easily. This will solve the problem of landfills, which annually end up with hundreds of millions of tons of PET plastic. Everything is packaged in this plastic – from soda drinks to shampoos.

Scientists from Japan are responsible for the discovery, who discovered a bacterium that can break down PET plastic in a relatively short period of time. The group of scientists is led by Dr. Shosuke Yoshida from the Kyoto Institute of Technology.

Scooping 250 samples of waste from PET recycling plants among soil and other sediments, scientists have discovered a bacterium that feeds on PET plastic and gets energy from this plastic. It took the bacteria weeks to break down one PET plastic can.

Scientists say that the microbe appeared due to evolution. It was called Ideonella sakaiensis.

“Eating” plastic, Ideonella sakaiensis breaks it down into two environmentally friendly monomers (terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol).

Plastic-eating organisms have been discovered before (for example, mushrooms). But they are not easy to make in the lab, and Ideonella sakaiensis turns out to be easy enough to make in the lab. This means that it is possible to create new effective methods for recycling plastic waste.