Scientists have accidentally created an enzyme that is able to breakdown plastic, specifically polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – which takes hundreds of years to degrade in natural environments. The research was spurred on by the 2016 discovery of a bacterium that had evolved to eat plastic at a waste dump in Japan. This led scientists to decipher the structure of the enzyme, before tweaking it to see how it would evolve, which inadvertently made it up to 20% more efficient at degrading PET than its original form. Currently the enzyme is able to process plastic in a matter of days, the Guardian reports.
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