Scientists discover new plastic-eating bacteria

  • Wednesday 29, May 2019 01:34 PM
Sharjah24 – Reuters: Scientists have found tiny microbes that are able to break down plastic waste found in the ocean, according to a study published in Science Magazine.
The bacteria has been named Ideonella Sakaiensis.

In a separate study, researchers from the Technical University of Crete experimented with the bacteria. They collected samples of weathered plastic such as polyethylene and polystyrene debris from two different beaches in Greece.

According to The European Scientist, polyethylene is commonly used to make plastic bags while polystyrene is typically used in food packaging.

The researchers immersed both types of plastic in saltwater from the sea, according to Science Magazine.

One batch had naturally-occurring ocean microbes added to the water, while the other had bacteria enhanced with carbon-eating microbe strains. The plastic-consuming microbes were used to speed up the chemical reactions normally required to break down plastic.

After five months, the scientists weighed the plastic debris and found that the polyethylene had a weight reduction of 7 percent, while the polystyrene had a weight reduction of 11 percent.

According to the study, the microbes could offer an attempt at solving the problem of plastic pollution.

However, more research would be needed to see how effective the bacteria would be on a larger scale.