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Water and sunlight convert single-use plastic bags into dissolved compounds

Credit: Water and sunlight convert single-use plastic bags into dissolved compounds, scientists discovered. Wikimedia Commons

Additives used in manufacturing accelerate breakdown

Researchers supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation studied how components in plastic bags decompose during exposure to sunlight while in water. Their findings are published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Once plastic pollution gets into the environment, its fate is still largely unknown, especially in aquatic ecosystems. Some plastic items, such as polyethylene shopping bags, float in water, which exposes them directly to the sun's rays.

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Insights: While Destroying Our Own Home...

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"When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can't eat money."

Alanis Obomsawin 

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A New Super Enzyme Breaks Down Plastic 6 Times Faster!

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Scientists from the University of Portsmouth have created a new super enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles. The process is 6 times faster than before.

So far, PET plastic (recycling polyethylene terephthalate), used for the production of single-use drink bottles, carpets, and clothing, has been broken down by the PETase enzyme, engineered by the same team. Now the researchers have added another enzyme, MHETase, to the process and managed to significantly speed it up. Both enzymes were found in a plastic-eating bug discovered in 2016 at a Japanese waste site. 

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