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Scientists accidentally find enzyme that eats plastic

In science it is no different than with another branch of sport: sometimes it is not too bad, sometimes it is disappointing. A number of amazing scientific discoveries have been made because something went wrong, someone misunderstood something or someone left something in a drawer. The scientists who were researching a plastic eating enzyme at the University of Portsmouth changed something and suddenly got a free improved version. Nice!

It is an enzyme that can completely break down plastic (in other words, PET that our bottles are made of). We have all been looking for a while for something that makes the plastic waste we generate as people easier to recycle in the context of sustainability There are already enzymes that can degrade PET (officially polyethene terephthalate), but the scientists at the University of Portsmouth changed the enzyme and then it turned out that another one would occur that plastic breaks down almost a quarter faster.

Even better

Now that the scientists have unintentionally encountered an improved enzyme, they are going to experiment further to see if the process cannot be further improved. If the process can be used on an industrial scale, that could solve a big problem.
At the moment PET bottles can be made so cheap (because of cheap oil) that producers choose not to recycle old bottles themselves but to simply make more new ones because that is cheaper. No more than a fifth of the plastic bottles are recycled at the moment, so there is still a lot to be gained.
However, Professor John McGeehan of the University thinks that society has since changed enough that manufacturers are also in for a better way of recycling. This enzyme could be the key in this, so hopefully, it can be further developed because the sea and our garbage dumps will not be put on army we shall say.

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