Plastic is a problem but it looks like bacteria might just save us from ourselves. Scientists have engineered a bacterial enzyme that can break down plastic bottles at record speed. It turns a process that would take hundreds of years into one that only takes a few hours.
The original bacteria was found in 2012 hanging out in a compost heap. Over the course of the last eight years, scientists tweaked it so that it could break down the bottles in just a few hours. It reverts them back to their base chemicals and then they can be recycled into brand new bottles.
Don’t expect to find these in a landfill near you just yet though. They’re still testing the enzymes with more tests planned for 2021. Research like this takes some time so it’s good to continue to recycle and cut down on plastic in the meantime.