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Scientists Accidentally Discovered A Plastic-Eating Enzyme That Could Revolutionize Recycling

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posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:03 AM
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Incredibly good news for a change! This is huuuuge.

news.vice.com...


An international team of scientists have accidentally enhanced a plastic-eating enzyme, leading to a discovery that could change our relationship with plastic forever. The breakthrough, if scaled up, could result in a process of plastic being broken down into its original components and then formed into plastic items again, removing the need for making more of the material.

The research was based on a 2016 discovery in a waste facility in Japan, where a bacterium had evolved to eat plastic. During the teams' attempt to understand the how the enzyme evolved, they made alterations that inadvertently led to the enzyme eating plastic 20 percent faster than before.


Although incredibly beneficial in our throw away society, plastics truly are the scourge of the earth. They can't develop this technology fast enough! Can you imagine if we never had to create another piece of plastic, just recycle the plastic already used and thrown away? This is BIG!!

Did you know:

  1. • In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
  2. • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
  3. • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
  4. • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times
  5. • We currently recover only five percent of the plastics we produce.
  6. • The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
  7. Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate
  8. • The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world's oil production (bioplastics are not a good solution as they require food source crops).
  9. • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year
  10. • Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottlecould end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
  11. • Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
  12. • 46 percent of plastics float (EPA 2006) and it can drift for years before eventually concentrating in the ocean gyres.
  13. • It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
  14. • Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land.
  15. • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
  16. • Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean's surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
  17. • One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
  18. • 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
  19. • In samples collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the plastic particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Researchers found 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.
  20. • Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).


www.ecowatch.com...




posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:06 AM
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Hopefully it will be an easy thing to cultivate and deploy without any adverse side effects along the way.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:10 AM
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a reply to: eNumbra

Mother Nature herself created the bacterium, scientists tinkering with it evolved it to make it faster.

What could go wrong? (sarcasm)

I'm still very encouraged!



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:26 AM
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A giant mountain of a dump a few miles away is actually called Forest Lawn and they are a waste storage facility. Sooner or later that waste will all get recycled.




posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:26 AM
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This reminded me of the BBC's '70's programme Doomwatch. They had an episode where a strain of bacteria or something started to eat plastic. Result was fairly dire, planes falling out of the sky, etc:

Doomwatch Video Plastic Eater

Yes, what could possibly go wrong?



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:32 AM
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originally posted by: Iamonlyhuman
a reply to: eNumbra

Mother Nature herself created the bacterium, scientists tinkering with it evolved it to make it faster.

What could go wrong? (sarcasm)



It is not a bacterium, though.
It is an enzyme, it's nothing more than a molecule, a protein.

(I assume you're not worried that proteins suddenly would get out of control and destroy humanity! Otherwise, of course this might not be so comforting.)
edit on 15-5-2018 by DupontDeux because: commas, commas everywhere!



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:34 AM
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originally posted by: oldcarpy
This reminded me of the BBC's '70's programme Doomwatch. They had an episode where a strain of bacteria or something started to eat plastic. Result was fairly dire, planes falling out of the sky, etc:

Doomwatch Video Plastic Eater

Yes, what could possibly go wrong?


Iron rusts, metals oxidize and we maintain them all the same and the world still goes around.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 10:52 AM
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a reply to: eNumbra


I'm guessing that you didn't watch the video?



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 11:03 AM
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originally posted by: oldcarpy
a reply to: eNumbra


I'm guessing that you didn't watch the video?

It’s a sci-fi program. If I sent you a link to the Stargate series would you think there was secret alien technology under Cheyenne mountain?

We can progress forward technologically while heeding the concerns of the potential dangers; sci-fi shows have little bearing on that. (Mostly because been there done that)

I’m also at work, so no, I didn’t watch it.
edit on 5/15/2018 by eNumbra because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: Iamonlyhuman

Read about this in early April: www.independent.co.uk...

Lets hope it can be developed in order to combat the plastic disaster we've unleashed on our planet.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 11:15 AM
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Set that stuff loose in the garbage patch and let it work for us.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 11:24 AM
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a reply to: Iamonlyhuman

I hope they get on this fast!! Plastics will be the death of us if we don't do something quickly...

Great OP S&F






posted on May, 15 2018 @ 12:19 PM
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WE are made out of a chemistry similar to plastic. Some of the chemicals to disolve plastics disolve our skin, I have used these in the past, they melt our skin and the plastic pipe.

I question whether this discovery is safe.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 12:29 PM
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a reply to: Iamonlyhuman


This was released the other day...


Sifting through the records of 5,010 dives in the database, the team counted 3,425 items of human-made debris, more than a third of which was macroplastic – visible pieces of plastic larger than 5mm, as opposed to smaller microplastics.

Of this macroplastic debris, almost 90 percent was single-use plastic, which governments around the world are finally, laggardly beginning to address.

In the case of the world's deepest plastic bag (seen at the top of this page), it was observed almost exactly 20 years ago, on 20 May 1998. In the decades since, its frayed form has probably broken down further into innumerable but persistent microplastics littering the surface of the ocean.

sciencealert.com, May 10, 2018 - A Plastic Bag Was Found at The Deepest Point on Earth, And We Should All Be Ashamed.

This about the Marianas Trench. Researchers went back over 5,000 submersible dives around the world and looked for "macro plastics" (ones that can be seen with the naked eye. I.e., this does not include micro plastics. It actually was only a survey of the ocean's floors). A shopping bag, like the one you get at the supermarket, is sitting at the deepest part (that we know of).

Let's hope that the Ocean Cleanup Project trial runs, set later for this year, actually work better than expected. Then we should go around and tax the countries tossing their crap into the oceans to fund them. The project plans on full scale operation in 2020.

Recent article on the Ocean Cleanup Project, May 10, 2018, emag.nauticexpo.com - Ocean Cleanup: Getting Real



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 12:29 PM
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the r0thshcilds, r0ckafellas, the internati0nalists who rule the world, rule partially because of oil. they will not give that up. they would rather destroy the world for their precious profit.

they will buy the compound and never let it be released.

or worse suicide some of the guys who make it.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 12:42 PM
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I remember when the chemistry geniuses came up with magical enzymes to clean our clothes and get out the toughest stains, and then they got into local streams and lakes and boosted water plant growth to such an extent that they killed off most of the wildlife.

So I expect these enzymes to lead to the end of all life on earth.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 02:17 PM
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I think it´s crucial to point out the difference between bacteria and enzymes.

The bacteria produces those enzymes, if we find out how to make those enzymes ourselfes, you basically don´t need the bacteria for the disolving process anymore.

That would make it more safe to deploy in waste facilities.



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 04:06 PM
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originally posted by: eNumbra
It’s a sci-fi program. If I sent you a link to the Stargate series would you think there was secret alien technology under Cheyenne mountain?
Yes



posted on May, 15 2018 @ 04:12 PM
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At one point there was a team working on a reactor process that could take organic waste and break it down and convert it into fossil fuel too.

I imagine it is no longer available thanks to the green energy boom, but it also could have reconstituted plastics ... and stuff like sewage and anything else organic into clean oil and basic chemicals.



posted on May, 16 2018 @ 03:38 AM
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originally posted by: eNumbra

originally posted by: oldcarpy
a reply to: eNumbra


I'm guessing that you didn't watch the video?

It’s a sci-fi program. If I sent you a link to the Stargate series would you think there was secret alien technology under Cheyenne mountain?

We can progress forward technologically while heeding the concerns of the potential dangers; sci-fi shows have little bearing on that. (Mostly because been there done that)

I’m also at work, so no, I didn’t watch it.



I was not actually suggesting it was real, just food for thought. Doomwatch was a series that tackled serious environmental and other issues in the early 70's. The link is to just a short clip.




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