Enzyme cocktail created by scientists to digest plastic: An enzyme cocktail has been created by scientists that could digest plastic up to six times faster than previously possible.

Professor John McGeehan, Director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Gregg Beckham, Senior Research Fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the US co-led a team that have found the combination of PETase, a recently discovered enzyme that digests PET, and a second enzyme found on bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles named MHETase, could speed up the breakdown of the plastic.

Offering the chance to recycle plastic ‘infinitely’ and reduce pollution and greenhouse gases, PETase breaks down polyethylene terephthalate (PET) back into its building blocks.

Used to make single-use drinks bottles, clothing and carpets, PET is the most common thermoplastic and it takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment.

The innovative pair of enzymes the scientific team says, could be used in large-scale industrial recycling applications and could fuel the prospect of a revolution in the treatment of plastic waste.

Professor John McGeehan said: “Gregg and I were chatting about how PETase attacks the surface of the plastics and MHETase chops things up further, so it seemed natural to see if we could use them together, mimicking what happens in nature.

“Our first experiments showed that they did indeed work better together, so we decided to try to physically link them like two Pac-men joined by a piece of string.”

Enzyme cocktail created by scientists to digest plastic

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