En­zyme can ‘eat plas­tic’

The Northern Star - - WORLD -

SCI­EN­TISTS have en­gi­neered a plas­tic-eat­ing en­zyme that could in fu­ture help in the fight against pol­lu­tion.

The en­zyme is able to di­gest poly­eth­yl­ene tereph­tha­late, or PET – a form of plas­tic patented in the 1940s and now used in mil­lions of tonnes of plas­tic bot­tles. It can per­sist for hun­dreds of years as an en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tant.

Re­searchers from Britain’s Uni­ver­sity of Portsmouth and the US Depart­ment of En­ergy made the dis­cov­ery while ex­am­in­ing the struc­ture of an en­zyme that evolved in a waste re­cy­cling cen­tre in Japan.

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