Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Reduce plastic waste, Australia develops polymer-eating creatures like ‘Pac-Man’

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Researchers in Australia are developing plastic-eating microbes that resemble pellet-eating Pac-Man to tackle the waste problem. photo/

canberra – Researchers Australia development of micro-organisms plastic Which looks like a pill-eating “Pac-Man”. These microorganisms aim to reduce plastic waste both in the ocean and in landfills.

These microorganisms are enzymes that feed on plastics. This enzyme is a complex molecule that can accelerate chemical reactions. For example, human saliva contains the enzyme amylase that breaks down complex chemicals in food into simpler chemicals.

Australian National University (ANU) professor Colin Jackson said the insatiable appetite for enzymes could be used to tackle the world’s plastic waste crisis. “Plastics are polymers of many small building blocks called monomers that are joined together by chemical bonds,” he told the AAP.

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This new technology keeps the original ingredients intact and makes it easy to recycle the new plastic over and over again. Within an hour, plastic bottles can be powdered, repurposed into new plastic.

“That enzyme spins around like Pac-Man, cutting all those bonds. This closed-loop chemical recycling concept means you make it once and you keep reusing it indefinitely,” says Colin Jackson says.

French biotechnology company Carbios has successfully used enzymatic recycling to reduce plastic waste. France Carbios opened a factory in France in the middle of last year and is set to increase the amount of plastic waste recycled.

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Carbios uses enzymes that were previously identified in compost, then they modify it to strengthen and speed up the process of recycling plastic waste. The Australian National University has also supported an Australian startup Sansar to limit recycling and end plastic pollution.

Company founder Paul Riley is looking to raise $49 million to build Australia’s first enzymatic recycling plant. “400 million tons of plastic are made every year and we are making more and more,” Riley said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the wastage of used disposable face masks has increased. Nasik Benson, a professor at Covenant University in Nigeria, estimates that around 3.4 billion single-use masks, usually made from a plastic called polypropylene, are thrown away every day around the world.


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