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The world has witnessed a global plastic pollution crisis for decades now. Researchers and scientists have constantly been searching for a way to make plastic less destructive to the environment. A recently created plastic-eating enzyme enables plastic matter to break down in just hours or days instead of decades. This enzyme, produced by scientists at the University of Texas in Austin, can help solve the issue of plastic pollution. Instead of burning plastic at landfills or dumping them in oceans, humans will finally have a much better way to dispose of plastic.
According to the team of scientists that created the enzyme, areas polluted with plastic waste can be cleared by humans with the help of the new plastic-eating enzyme. Polymer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a popular consumer packaging material and makes up 12 per cent of all waste. The enzyme broke down items made from PET during experiments in 24 hours to one week.
The new plastic-eating enzyme can provide endless possibilities to industries and companies. It can also offer the waste industry and other businesses the chance to dispose of their waste sustainably. Scientists have named the enzyme FAST-PETase- functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase. The scientists created the enzyme from a natural PETase that enables bacteria to break down PET plastic.
Traditional waste disposal technology only allows the recycling of certain products, while most products are burned and thrown in the oceans. FAST-PETase, an optimized enzyme, breaks down plastic materials into chemical elements and is reprocessed into new items. The published details on the new enzyme appeared in the April issue of Nature. The team plans to develop the enzyme into an efficient product for environmental and industrial use. Generally, in the case of ecological application, an enzyme is required to perform at an ambient temperature. The team has been developing the enzyme to meet the specific targets.
Recycling waste is one of the most effective methods to reduce plastic pollution. However, only 10 percent of plastic waste is recycled globally. Burning garbage is expensive, harmful, and requires energy. Biological solutions to environmental issues take much less time and effort. Today, industries and institutions can use sustainable methods of waste disposal that operate efficiently at low temperatures and is affordable and portable on a large scale. FAST-PETase provides opportunities for just that and can perform efficiently at less than 50 degrees Celsius.