GOLDEN, COLORADO — Researchers from the U.S. and Britain say they have created a plastic-eating enzyme that could be used aide in the recovery and recycling of plastics.
The enzyme is able to digest polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, plastic. PET plastics take hundreds of years to breakdown and have become an enormous source of pollution, according to Reuters.
The findings were published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Britain's University of Portsmouth made the discovery while looking at the structure of a natural enzyme believed to have evolved in a recycling plant in Japan.
Researchers added some amino acids to the enzyme which ended up speeding up its plastic-eating capabilities.
The team will now work on improving the enzyme to see if it's capable to breaking down PET plastics on an industrial scale.