Keio University researchers discover a bacterium that degrades plastic.
More than 55 million tons of PET is produced each year to make products such as soda bottles, clothing and even car bumpers. First manufactured 70 years ago from petroleum products, PET’s crystalline structure is difficult to break down. With only 14 per cent of plastic recycled, most of it ends up contaminating the environment, especially rivers and oceans.
The team, led by Kohei Oda of the Kyoto Institute of Technology, went in search of a microorganism that could degrade PET so it could be recycled without posing an environmental burden.