Australian scientists create plastic-eating creatures like “Pac-Man”


Australian researchers are developing plastic-eating microbes that resemble pellet-eating “Pac-Man,” but the former could distract plastic from the ocean or landfills rather than simply winning the game’s satisfaction. ..

Microorganisms are enzymes that eat plastic. Enzymes are complex molecules that can accelerate chemical reactions. For example, human saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which breaks down the complex chemicals in the food we eat into simpler ones.

Professor Colin Jackson of the Australian National University (ANU) said the insatiable desire for plastics from this enzyme can be used to tackle the global plastic crisis.

“Plastics are polymers made up of many small building blocks called chemical-bonded monomers,” he told AAP.

“Enzymes move around like Pac-Man and break through all those bonds.”

Within an hour, you can reduce your PET bottles to powder and get ready to remake them into brand new plastic.

New technology keeps core elements intact and clear, making new plastics easy to reproduce over and over again. Currently, it is difficult to use plastic more than a few times because the quality of plastic deteriorates in each cycle when it is recycled.

“All the raw materials we need already exist. It’s already made and in the world’s garbage dumps,” Jackson said.

“This concept of closed-loop chemical recycling means that once created, it can be reused indefinitely.”

A similar company that has successfully used enzyme recycling is French biotechnology company Carbios, which opened a factory in central France last year and is ready to scale up this year.

Calbios uses the enzyme first identified in compost. speed up Its recycling process.

ANU has helped Australian startup Samsara create endless recycling and end plastic pollution.

The company’s founder, Paul Riley, wants to raise $ 49 million ($ 35 million) to build the first enzyme recycling plant in Australia.

“Every year, 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced, and we continue to produce more,” says Riley.

“Then we realize that Samsara must succeed and all other technologies must succeed. The scale of the problem is huge and scary,” he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, disposable face masks have been added to the list of repetitively cluttered items such as takeaway containers, food packaging, and cigarette butts.

Nsikak Benson, a professor at the University of Covenant in Nigeria, estimates that 3.4 billion disposable masks (usually made from a plastic called polypropylene) are discarded daily around the world.

Jesse Chan

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Jessie Zhang is a Sydney-based reporter with Australian news and a focus on health and the environment. Contact her at [email protected]

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