Researchers have created an enzyme that breaks down plastics in hours that could normally take centuries to degrade.
Plastic waste is one of the biggest problems faced by humanity today and is a key accelerator of climate change and global warming.
This enzyme could be a game-changer for recycling, with previously damaging plastics being reused and remoulded molecularly.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the polymer responsible for most food packaging and commonly the most difficult to recycle – accounting for 12% of global waste.
Scientists from the University of Texas believe this discovery could be key in cutting down the amount of plastic that reaches landfill, destroying wildlife and nature in the process.
Allegedly, the enzyme successfully broke down PET into smaller parts and put them back together with a different chemical makeup for new use.
Less than 10% of world plastic is recycled, with most either reaching landfill or being burned, costing copious amounts of energy.
“When considering environmental clean-up applications, you need an enzyme that can work in the environment at ambient temperature. This requirement is where our tech has a huge advantage in the future,” said Professor Hal Alper, University of Texas.