Can this Enzyme solve world’s Plastic problem?


Plastics are a chain of polymers often composed of carbon and hydrogen and sometimes oxygen, nitrogen, Sulphur, chlorine, fluorine, phosphorous or silicon. They are tough to degrade however very recently an international team of scientists have engineered an enzyme that eats plastic. But the scientists are on the verge of testing it.

This is world’s first step to come up with the solution for the 300m tones of plastic that is produced every year.

Recently a bacteria has been found out that has the potential of digesting the world’s most common plastic known as PET. This has been discovered recently in a Japanese recycling plant feeds.

“We actually thought we were making the enzyme slower by changing a few amino acids but actually we’ve made it faster,” said Professor John McGeehan, X-Ray crystallographer at the University of Portsmouth.

“We’ve made an improved version of the enzyme better than the natural one already. That’s really exciting because that means that there’s potential to optimise the enzyme even further.”


Though this enzyme can feed only on PET, it would be better if it could feed on others as well. “Basically, we can just make gallons of powered enzyme and then pour it into a vat of plastic,” said McGeehan.

The scientists are expecting to produce a strain that can be used on a wide range of plastics.

“This is what we’re aiming to do. So just in the same way that washing power detergents were developed and made more stable, being able to work at high temperature or low temperatures, we’re going to do the same with this enzyme and hopefully create something that we can use on an industrial scale.” More needs to be done in case of improvising its capabilities.

The way plastics are dumped in an ocean, there is a possibility that by 2050, there would be more of plastics in oceans in comparison to fishes.

So, the solution needs to be brought up on an efficient note that would help erase this “plastic crisis” rather than speeding it up.

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