A Mutant Enzyme That Can Digest Plastic

Updated: Jan 26

Recycling isn't a simple process to follow. It takes lot of energy, time and investment. However, the plastic has literally taken over the earth that even in the air that we breathe has plastic particles in it. Over 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute and the number of bottles sold in a year will rise near to 600 billion by 2021. Out of this huge quantity of plastic only 25% are recycled. (For a fact, only about 30% of the plastic that goes into soda bottles gets turned into new plastic with lower strength). If we'll recycle the other 75 %, we can save more than 10 billion gallons of oil annually.

Now, the researchers have reported that they’ve engineered an enzyme that can convert 90% of that same plastic back to its pristine starting materials. A new mutant super enzyme will now attempt to clean up the mess created by us.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is one of the world’s most commonly used plastics, with some 70 million tons produced annually. PET bottles are already recycled in many places. But the current approach has problems.

To get around this concern, scientists started to search for enzymes in microbes that can break down PET and other plastics. In 2012, researchers at Osaka University found one such enzyme in a compost heap. That enzyme, known as leaf-branch compost cutinase (LLC). Professor John McGeehan, who directs the center for enzyme innovation at the University of Portsmouth created a mutant enzyme with LLC and other type of enzymes using the twin approach.

They are currently working on increasing the commercial applications of the enzyme so they can collaborate with recycling agencies and allow them to use the super mutant enzyme which would help in reducing the plastic waste from earth faster.

We human should not wait for such solutions to clean up our mess, we should take necessary actions from our side to save the planet. Work today to save the future.

Do like the post and share your valuable comments on how else we can save our mother nature from destruction.

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