Japanese scientists discover plastic eating bacteria


A team of Japanese scientists have found a bacteria that eats the type of plastic found in most disposable plastic bottles.

About 56 million tons of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles were produced in 2013 alone. Only half of the materials is ever recycled. PET is durable and resistant to water and this is what has made it popular for companies. However this makes it bad for the environment as it takes a long time to biodegrade. It accumulates in landfills and in the ocean.

This bacteria has been given the name Ideonella sakaiensis.  The Japanese team conducted an experiment in which the isolated bacterium almost completely degraded a plastic film in around six weeks. The bacterium needs to be studied further as the digestive process is slow and the short-term implications are unknown.

This bacterium could lead to new ways to safely get rid of junk material.

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