PM pledges £60m package to fight plastic pollution at CHOGM

PM pledges £60m package to fight plastic pollution at CHOGM

Additionally, the UK Department for International Development will support research into solutions to reduce manufacturing pollution.

A study, published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may result in a recycling solution to millions of tonnes of plastic bottles, made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which now persists for hundreds of years in the environment.

Scientists in Britain and the United States have engineered a plastic-eating enzyme that could in future help in the fight against pollution.

"There is strong potential to use enzyme technology to help with society's growing waste problem by breaking down some of the most commonly used plastics".

It's estimated that a frankly staggering 12 million tonnes of plastic rubbish is dumped into the oceans every single year.

The researchers made the breakthrough when they were examining the structure of a natural enzyme which is thought to have evolved in a waste recycling centre in Japan, allowing a bacterium to degrade plastic as a food source. PETease was a remarkable organism, having come into existence only since PET was created in the 1940s.

More news: USA and United Kingdom blame Russian Federation for cyber hacks on internet routers worldwide
More news: Syrian air defences shoot down missiles over two air bases
More news: "Night Court" actor Harry Anderson dies at 65

The researchers worked with scientists at Diamond Light Source (DLS) in the United Kingdom, deploying a synchrotron that uses intense beams of X-rays 10 billion times brighter than the sun to act as a microscope powerful enough to see individual atoms.

Using a super-powerful X-ray, 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, they were able to make an ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional model of the enzyme.

It was then that the serendipitous moment happened. Enzymes are a form of protein that act as catalysts in biochemical reactions.

Lead scientist prof John McGeehan, from Portsmouth university, said: 'Serendipity often plays a significant role in fundamental scientific research, and our discovery is no exception.

Professor McGeehan, Director of the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences said: 'Few could have predicted that since plastics became popular in the 1960s huge plastic waste patches would be found floating in oceans, or washed up on once pristine beaches all over the world.

Professor McGeehan said: "The engineering process is much the same as for enzymes now being used in bio-washing detergents and in the manufacture of biofuels - the technology exists and it's well within the possibility that in the coming years we will see an industrially viable process to turn PET and potentially other substrates like PEF, PLA and PBS, back into their original building blocks so they can be sustainably sustained".

Related Articles