Plastic can be biodegradable in the presence of a certain kind of bacteria.This bacterium is capable of breaking down and consuming PET, one of the world’s most problematic plastic pollutants.
Japanese researchershas discovered and named the species, Ideonella sakaiensis, by analysing microbes living on debris of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics they collected from soil and waste water.
The study, published in Science, found that it takes about six weeks for the bacteria to degrade PET. “We hope this bacterium could be applied to solve the severe problems by the wasted PET materials in nature,” one of the authors, Kohei Oda, told the Christian Science Monitor. “This is just the initiation for application.”