The team at learning toy company Click-A-Brick is thrilled to see the discovery of a bacteria that eats plastic and has been touted by scientists as a potential new way to recycle plastic waste, saying any company that uses plastic in its products should be happy with the discovery.
A team from Kyoto University discovered the bacteria in a recycling center after looking at 250 samples over a five year period, according to an article published on The Conversation website. The newly discovered species of bacteria has been named Ideonella sakaiensis and is capable of living off of poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), a common plastic used in bottles and clothing.
The difference between the newly discovered microbe and plastic eating microbes that have been discovered before is that this new one is easily grown. Also, the scientists that discovered it have also identified the enzyme the bacteria uses to break down plastic and have discovered that this enzyme can be used by itself to break down plastic.
The discovery could potentially open a new approach to plastic recycling, The Conversation article stated. Currently, plastics are merely melted down and used to make other plastic products. With these newly discovered enzymes, plastics could actually be broken down into easy-to-handle chemicals that can then be used to make fresh, new plastic (which is often preferred by companies). This would be a true recycling system for plastic.
Everyone should be excited about this new discovery, say Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza, co-founders of Click-A-Brick, which just released its latest educational toy set, the 100-piece Rescue Squad. Any company that primarily uses plastic for its products or packaging should be especially excited about this new discovery, though, the pair say.
“This is an amazing discovery and from a purely consumer standpoint, we’re excited that something is now available to truly break down and recycle common types of plastic,” Smith said. “Being able to truly biodegrade things like plastic pop bottles could have huge implications for cleaning up the environment, particularly the ocean, where a lot of that sort of plastic ends up. A discovery like this also gives us hope that at some point in the future we may discover a way to truly recycle other forms of plastic like ABS.”
The Click-A-Brick team advocates recycling of its own toys and other toys made of non-biodegradable plastic by giving them to someone else when a child has grown out of the toy stage of life. But, the company does hope that there will eventually be a way to biodegrade all types of plastic so none of it ends up polluting the environment.
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