Plastic-Eating Enzyme Could Eliminate Billions Of Tons Of Landfill Waste

April 29, 2022

An enzyme variant created by engineers and scientists at The University of Texas at Austin can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours to days.

plastic eating enzyme pollution

This discovery, published today in Nature, could help solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems: what to do with the billions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and polluting our natural lands and water.

The enzyme has the potential to supercharge recycling on a large scale that would allow major industries to reduce their environmental impact by recovering and reusing plastics at the molecular level.

"The possibilities are endless across industries to leverage this leading-edge recycling process," said Hal Alper, professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin.

"Beyond the obvious waste management industry, this also provides corporations from every sector the opportunity to take a lead in recycling their products. Through these more sustainable enzyme approaches, we can begin to envision a true circular plastics economy."

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