There has been a breakthrough that could potentially aid recycling efforts worldwide. Here’s the scoop.
Scientists have recently discovered that microbes can digest plastics at low temperatures, a breakthrough that could significantly impact the planet.
Plastics are known to cause damage to our seas, our land and our wildlife, so this incredible discovery could be the answer to our prayers.
A scientific breakthrough – scientists discover microbes can digest plastics
Scientific researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute have unveiled that biodegradable plastics can be broken down and digested by Alps and Arctic microbes at temperatures as low as 15 C (59 F), which is much lower than microbes which could only work at temperatures above 30 C (86 F).
This incredible discovery could have tremendous benefits when it comes to recycling. It can be used as a precious tool as the world aims to become more environmentally conscious and reduce our impact on the earth.
Using these microbes in industrial practices would be less expensive and more environmentally sustainable since it does not require high heating temperatures.
The study – incredible results were unveiled
The plastics that have been tested included 19 strains of bacteria and 15 fungi growing on free-lying and purposefully buried plastic which was kept in the ground in Greenland, Svalbard (Norway) and Switzerland.
In addition, researchers tested both biodegradable (PUR) and non-biodegradable plastics (PE) and two commercially available biodegradable mixtures known as PBAT and PLA.
Scientists allowed the microbes to grow single-strain cultures in the laboratory in darkness at a temperature of 15 C (59 F).
Then they tested them to see if they could digest different types of plastic. Results showed that the bacterial strains belonged to 13 genera in the phyla Actinobacteria and proteobacteria and the fungi to ten genera in the classes Ascomycota and Mucoromycota.
While none of the strains could digest PE, 19 strains could digest PUR at 15 C (59 F), and others could digest the plastic mixtures of PBAT and PLA – a startling discovery which has never been seen before.
Scientists discover microbes can digest plastics – a valuable recycling tool
Dr Joel Rüthi from WSL said these microbes could help reduce the costs and environmental burden of an enzymatic recycling process for plastic.
He also noted that a significant fraction of the tested strains could degrade at least one of the tested plastics, which was surprising.
The discovery of these microbes could revolutionize plastic recycling efforts. The current process of recycling plastic is energy-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive, and the resulting recycled plastic is often of lower quality than the original material.
With these newly discovered microbes, recycling plastic at a lower temperature could be more cost-effective and better for the environment.
However, further research and development are necessary before this can be implemented on a large scale. The discovery of these microbes also highlights the importance of environmental conservation and the need to find sustainable solutions to the world’s environmental problems.
It is crucial to continue exploring ways to reduce plastic waste and find ways to recycle it effectively to reduce its impact on the environment. The discovery of these microbes is a step in the right direction and provides hope for a greener future.
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