A man-made enzyme holds hope of a natural solution to plastic waste, according to research reports. The enzyme appears to have “evolved” in a recycling facility in Japan, but was manipulated to make its plastic-eating more effective.
Researchers from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory added amino acids to the new enzyme to increase its tendency to digest plastic material (Guardian).
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Results of the project were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
The enzyme naturally digested polyethylene terephthalate, or PET – a form of plastic used in plastic bottles. Plastic pollution, especially in the oceans, has been much discussed in recent months (Nature) and is the focus of a WikiProject.
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