British scientists synthesized enzyme for the decomposition of food plastic

The University of Portsmouth offered a non-standard solution for the destruction of non-recyclable plastic waste.

As a result of the scientific experiment in Portsmouth, protein that destroys chains of chemical bonds in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (the most popular material for the production of plastic bottles and containers) was synthesized. Despite the manufacturers' statement about the good degradability of polyester material, it is the PET bottles that have clogged garbage dumps in many countries around the world. According to the estimates of the British Federation of Plastic Manufacturers, more than 70% of all containers for juices, drinking water and soda have been produced from polyethylene terephthalate.

A few years ago, in a laboratory at one of the Japanese garbage processing plants, a bacterium that decomposed polyester chains was found. This discovery was called promising from the point of view of solving the global problem of processing food plastic. And scientists from Portsmouth University were included in the number of working groups on the study of the properties of a microorganism called PETase.

Investigating the molecular structure of the bacterium, the British exposed it to powerful X-ray irradiation, and as a result, it was possible to synthesize an enzyme with the same characteristics as a natural organism, but with a much higher productivity. In addition to PET, the "protein-mutant" was able to break down the chemical chains in the plastic PEF, which is used to produce bottles for beer. This gives grounds for an optimistic forecast that in the coming years it will be possible to create entire complexes for processing polyethylene terephthalate and other types of food plastic for the initial components without the slightest harm to the environment.

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