HomeScience & InnovationPlastic Pollution: New enzyme breaks down plastic waste in a week

Plastic Pollution: New enzyme breaks down plastic waste in a week

Plastic waste is the most vexing environmental problem today, with billions of tons of waste buried in landfills taking centuries to decompose. 

Recently, a team at the University of Texas at Austin has created a new enzyme that breaks down plastic in just a few hours to days.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a polymer commonly found in most consumer packaging, with excellent tensile, impact strength, abrasion resistance, electrical insulation and other properties, such as biscuit boxes, beverage bottles, certain Some fibers and textiles, etc. Because it brings great convenience to human life, plastic products can be seen everywhere.

However, these thermoplastic polyesters are difficult to degrade after being manufactured, and most of them have not been successfully recycled into the recycling system, so they can only be left in the natural environment, which not only damages the landscape but also causes Ecological catastrophe also accounts for 12% of all global waste.

Under natural conditions, polyethylene terephthalate products take centuries to degrade properly.

It can break down plastic as quickly as 24 hours

Recently, a team at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) developed a new enzyme from natural PETase, Called FAST-PETase, it allows bacteria to break down PET products within a week, and some as quickly as 24 hours.

When FAST-PETase completes the work of cutting plastic into basic molecular units (depolymerization), it can also use chemical technology to re-polymerize plastic and recycle it to make new plastic products. 

According to team tests, FAST-PETase can effectively degrade 51 different consumer plastic containers, 5 different polyester fibers and fabrics made of PET, and the working temperature is lower than 50 °C, which has great technical advantages.

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Mehmet S. Kaya
Mehmet S. Kaya
Mehmet is one of the administrator of Teknonel. As a software developer, he loves to share his knowledge in related topics. He is highly familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, publishing, and performance analysis as well as product reviews.

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