Plastic has become a huge environmental burden and by-product of development and globalization round the world. PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is the most common thermoplastic used to make bottles, carpets, and clothing, and once released in the environment it takes hundreds of years to breakdown in the environment. Scientists impending solution to tackle plastic waste had engineered natural PETase enzyme in a laboratory which is 20 percent faster at breaking PET down.
It was prospected as a low energy solution to tackle global plastic waste and it was prospected as a revolution in the field of plastic recycling, to reduce plastic pollution and greenhouse gases which are driving factors for increasing climate change.
Recently the same trans-Atlantic team who discovered PETase, have created a ‘super-enzyme’ which increased the breakdown activity three times further, by combining PETase with its partner, a second enzyme MHETase. PET breakdown activity has been doubled by simply mixing both enzymes and it was done by physically linking both of them.
PETase was an essential discovery in the right direction as it reduced period of breakdown from hundreds of years to days but it was still not commercially viable to discard tons of plastic bottles littering the planet. On the other hand, this newly created cocktail enzyme is projected as a leap step taken to solve the plastic problem, as they can work six times faster. By digesting the plastics six times faster, this new ‘cocktail’ will allow the use of plastic in an endless manner, by proper recycling, without creating any harm to our planet.
Written by Khusbhu Mathur