That we’d like to be able to continue using plastics is obvious – there is a reason why we started using them in the first place after all. Cheaper, safer, than the alternatives, why not? There is though that problem of the waste.
Myself I say chuck it in a hole, we’re not short of holes. Current fashion has it that landfill is the very devil so that’s not really on. In which case we want some method of recycling the stuff:
A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.
The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.
Cool. So cool as to be Cool Beanz even. We can see every environmentalist welcoming this. Well, maybe:
The new enzyme was revealed in research published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The work began with the screening of 100,000 micro-organisms for promising candidates, including the leaf compost bug, which was first discovered in 2012.
“It had been completely forgotten, but it turned out to be the best,” said Prof Alain Marty at the Université de Toulouse, France, the chief science officer at Carbios.
The scientists analysed the enzyme and introduced mutations to improve its ability to break down the PET plastic from which drinks bottles are made. They also made it stable at 72C, close to the perfect temperature for fast degradation.
“Introduced mutations” is the current code word for genetic modification, isn’t it? Which means that we’re going to have one substantial part of the environmental movement opposing this. Which will be amusing, because then we all get to ask “Whaddayameanyeraginrecyling?”
There are more logical reasons for being against this:
Waste bottles also have to be ground up and heated before the enzyme is added, so the recycled PET will be more expensive than virgin plastic.
We actually save more resources by making new plastic and putting the old in a hole, see up top. But then there’s very little about current environmentalism that is really about saving resources, is there?