Are plastic eating bacteria the solution to ocean pollution? Science shows it’s not that simple

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Are plastic eating bacteria the solution to ocean pollution? Science shows it’s not that simple‘Environmental Defense Fund (blog)

Recent reporting on the discovery and enhancement of plastic-dissolving enzymes in bacteria made me stop and think about what this might mean for the plastic pollution problem that is plaguing the oceans, including the world’s coral reefs.

While this development is interesting, and draws necessary focus to the immense problem of plastic pollution in the ocean, it is premature to guess whether these kinds of enzymes might provide an effective ‘silver bullet’ for treating plastics floating in the five great gyres of the sea.

  • Publisher: EDFish
  • Date: 2018-07-11T11:11:14+00:00
  • Author: Doug Rader
  • Citation: Web link

Other things to check out:

Plastic-eating bacteria discovered by student could help solve global pollution crisis

A student may have found a solution to one of the world’s most urgent environmental crises ‘ breeding bacteria capable of ‘eating’ plastic and potentially breaking it down into harmless by-products.


Morgan Vague, who is studying biology at Reed College in Oregon, said the process, if sped up, could play a ‘big part’ of solutions to the planet’s plastic problem, which sees millions of tonnes dumped in landfill and oceans every year. 

  • Publisher: The Independent
  • Date: 2018-06-29T15:06:45+01:00
  • Author: Tom Embury Dennis
  • Twitter: @independent
  • Citation: Web link

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Plastic-Eating Bacteria Could Solve World’s Pollution Problem

© Provided by IBT US Pollution caused by plastics has become a very serious environmental crisis in the recent years. The problem lies on the fact that plastic takes centuries to break down, so it can damage its surroundings and lead to serious ramifications’to man and other creatures.

Interestingly, there now appears to be a solution for the big environmental problem the world is facing. A student recently discovered bacteria that are capable of eating plastic and breaking it down into harmless by-products, The Independent reports.

Plastic-eating bacteria could help solve crisis

The microbes degrade polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – one of the world’s most common plastics, used in clothing, drinks bottles and food packaging.


Around 300 million tonnes of plastic is discarded each year, and only about 10 per cent of it is recycled.

“When I started learning about the statistics about all the plastic waste we have, essentially that told me we have a really serious problem here and we need some way to address it,” Ms Vague told The Independent.

After she began learning about bacterial metabolism and “all the crazy things bacteria can do”, the student decided to find out if there were microbes out there able to degrade “straight-from-the-store” plastic.

A Reed College Biology Student Discovered Plastic

As she prepared to fly back to Portland in January 2017, Morgan Vague stood nervously in the security line at Houston Airport, hoping the TSA agents wouldn’t notice the contraband stored in her carry-on bag’nearly a dozen Ziploc bags full of dirt.

The Reed College senior had flown to Texas to collect samples for her biology thesis project. Her theory was that, in areas with high rates of pollution, microbes would have evolved to eat certain types of plastic. Oregon’s soil is too clean to accurately sample from, and many of the state’s landfills and refineries are closed off. But that wouldn’t be an issue in Houston, where she grew up’there are seven Superfund sites in her home county alone.

  • Publisher: Willamette Week
  • Citation: Web link

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