Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months

Non-degradable nature of plastic is causing a lot of environmental problems around the world. But, it is nearly impossible to ban plastic, as it have so many uses. If plastic can be decomposed it will be a great invention for a big problem. A 16 year old innovative school goer in the U.S has derived a way to do that. His find will help us to reduce the decomposition time of plastic from millions of years to just 3 months. That is initial results, I believe it can be reduced further under industrial production if further R&D is invested.

How is plastic decomposed? The factor that is responsible for the decomposition of bacteria is bacteria.

The Waterloo, Ontario high school junior figured that something must make plastic degrade, even if it does take millennia, and that something was probably bacteria.

(Hey, at between one-half and 90 percent of Earth’s biomass, bacteria’s a pretty safe bet for any biological mystery.)

The Record reports that Burd mixed landfill dirt with yeast and tap water, then added ground plastic and let it stew. The plastic indeed decomposed more quickly than it would in nature; after experimenting with different temperatures and configurations, Burd isolated the microbial munchers. One came from the bacterial genus Pseudomonas, and the other from the genus Sphingomonas.

Burd says this should be easy on an industrial scale: all that’s needed is a fermenter, a growth medium and plastic, and the bacteria themselves provide most of the energy by producing heat as they eat. The only waste is water and a bit of carbon dioxide.

Amazing stuff. I’ll try to get an interview with this young man who may have managed to solve one of the most intractable environmental dilemmas of our time. And I can’t help but wonder whether his high school already had its prom. If he doesn’t get to be king, there’s no justice in this world. [1]

  1. Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months, Brandon Keim
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