New Enzyme Could Aid in Plastic Pollution Cleanup

A diet coke bottle is littered in the mud

Researchers from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory accidentally invented an enzyme that decomposes plastic. They noticed that this enzyme, Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, has naturally evolved to eat polyethylene terephthalate, a compound more commonly known as PET. PET is a plastic that is commonly used for packaging needs and services, especially in consumable water bottles. We at Pioneer were very excited to hear this news as it has the potential to positively impact our environment and moves us closer to renewable materials.

Around 1 million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the globe, and around 14% of that plastic packaging is recycled. 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste has accumulated over the years from plastic packaging production. These plastic bottles find their way into our oceans, ultimately damaging the ecosystems that reside there. The micro-bits of plastic that are being broken down by the ocean are then consumed by marine life, resulting in the toxic poisoning of fish and other sea creatures.

The reason this discovery is very exciting is that there can be a multitude of ways that this enzyme can be utilized to alleviate the plastic pollution that is harming our environment. This enzyme is able to break down the PET plastics at a fraction of the normal decomposition rate.

Here at Pioneer, we support new ways in which we can reduce the waste that goes into our environment. If you or your company has any questions or concerns on how to achieve more sustainable packaging solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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