The increasing amount of plastic being added to our environments has created intense selection pressure for microbes that can break down plastic for energy.
Looking at environmental DNA samples, researchers have found 30,000 different enzymes capable of digesting different types of plastic. Almost 60% did not fit into any known enzyme types.
While previous plastic-eating microbes had primarily been found in garbage dumps or recycling plants (locations with very high levels of plastic), the enzymes in this study were collected from soil and ocean water throughout the world, meaning this phenomenon is even more widespread than we thought.
The goal is to utilize these enzymes for more efficient recycling--essentially breaking plastic down into its basic building blocks to reduce or even eliminate the need for new virgin plastic. An enzyme created in 2020 is already being used to recycle plastic bottles in only a couple of hours.
Thanks to the anonymous individual who sent this in!
I’ve been thinking: what if we’ve gotten Ea-nasir all wrong?
Though clay tablets were an ephemeral medium, recycling them wasn’t necessarily something people were equipped to do at home, and was often a centralised process performed at special facilities.
What if Ea-nasir wasn’t the sort of gremlin who’d save his hate mail, and the real reason he had a room in his house stuffed to bursting with bad product reviews is because he’d just been procrastinating on taking out his recycling for like twenty years?
the break free from plastic act would functionally hold manufacturers & corporations responsible for the costs involved in recycling and waste management. obviously, corporations are most influenced by money - this is the only way to enact real change on many of these companies.
the act would also lead to phasing out single use plastic, establishing new recycling standards, and investing in new recycling facilities.
no matter who you are, this is important! please take a few minutes to write a letter in support.
An enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours to days.
This discovery, published today in Nature, could help solve one of the world's most pressing environmental problems: what to do with the billions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and polluting our natural lands and water. The enzyme has the potential to supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level.
"The possibilities are endless across industries to leverage this leading-edge recycling process," said Hal Alper, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin. "Beyond the obvious waste management industry, this also provides corporations from every sector the opportunity to take a lead in recycling their products. Through these more sustainable enzyme approaches, we can begin to envision a true circular plastics economy."
TL;DR: due to a bacterial enzyme in a particular worm species' guts, it can digest plastic. if scientists can isolate the enzyme and mass produce it, they could utilize it in recycling plants to break down plastic.
Nathalie and Greg Kupfer’s Micro-Cabin, Canmore, Alberta, Canada,
The forested retreat cost the couple $2,109. Included in the project’s net cost, Nathalie and Greg put out an additional $20 to build and furnish an outhouse on the property. Once the cabin’s build reached completion, the DIYers got back almost all of the $2,109 they spent on construction by selling unneeded building material they bought through bartering.
Spain will ban plastic wrap for fruits and vegetables starting in 2023, and a similar ban in France goes into effect at the beginning of 2022. The new decree also includes efforts to decrease the use of plastic bottles and a goal to reduce plastic water bottle use by 50% and recycle 100% of packaging by 2030.
I finished my reusable grocery bag made of grocery bags!!! I started this project a month and five days ago, and used over a hundred plastic grocery bags to complete it.
This was a really fun project that I'm glad to have completed!! (And not just because I can start a project that isn't garter stitch with knotted plastic.....)
I was inspired by @wastelesscrafts to complete this project after they posted a link to the pattern I used. Thanks for the encouragement! I delayed over a hundred plastic grocery bags from going into the garbage, and have another nice big bag to take to the grocery store.
Overall, this was a great learning experience in terms of tension and knitting technique, and I'm excited to start a new project!
Old plastic from scrapped cars can be converted into graphene by grinding it to dust and zapping it with high-voltage electricity, a process that could save large amounts of plastic from landfill.
Graphene is a form of atom-thick carbon with a number of useful electrical and material properties. James Tour at Rice University in Texas and his colleagues have previously found that plastic could be converted into graphene via a process called flash joule heating, where material is heated to temperatures generally in excess of 2700°C by passing high voltages through it.
They have now worked with car manufacturer Ford to show that this graphene can be used to manufacture new parts for cars, and that those new parts can again be recycled into fresh graphene.
“You don’t have to bury this stuff anymore,” says Tour. “You just turn it into graphene, put it in your new composite, then, when you’re done with those composites after 50 years, flash it again, turn them into graphene and put it into composites again.”