bacteria to eat plastic

In honour of Buckminster Fuller’s quote, “whether or not it will be utopia or oblivion will be a touch and go relay race until the very end” we of the dancing moose have added two new post categories – utopia and oblivion. Not sure if I will go back and retrospectively categorise everything, but it will certainly be a helpful flag, and definitely seems uncannily apt.

But anyway. Here’s one for utopia.

What if we could make plastic biodegrade in a few months instead of a millenia?

Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true.

After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them.

Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster — in three months, he figures.

Yay harnessing bacteria. And teenagers asking questions.

6 Responses to “bacteria to eat plastic”

  1.   Sangrail
    May 27th, 2008 | 4:35 pm

    Woah.
    Cool, but it almost makes me feel a little dumb.
    It’s the sort of thing I’d never think to try because I thought someone would have already done exactly that, already.
    (But still, yay! And you’ve totally read about bioremediation with mushrooms, right? 🙂 )

  2.   Administrator
    May 28th, 2008 | 12:39 am

    “bioremediation with mushrooms”
    um, what?

  3.   chuck
    May 28th, 2008 | 9:09 am

    check out this article (one of many) re bioremediation a la mushys! http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=597

    as for the bugs eat plastic – jealous of the waterloo teenager, bloody good piece of work. Slightly worried too that a simple piece of investigative experimentation hadn’t been done properly till now. I’d assumed that it couldn’t be done without some GE trickery (and that that hadn’t been a profitable avenue to explore yet or even worse that it had been and that there was no way to subsequently market it). But it is good to have these preconceived notions overturned by simple clever work.

    I now want to get in touch with the guy and ask him if his bugs will work in the presence of dog poo. I see an immediate market if a) he keeps his specific bug mix quiet and b) sells the bugs to councils that have installed the dog poo bins. It amazes me that in this modern day and age every dog crap is individually wrapped in plastic bags and I can see that you’d make a bloody forture if you could turn that amount of landfill waste into something you could easily reclaim (e.g. solid biological waste treatment, perhaps with downstream bioremediation a la mushys…).

    I am now troubled that I am wanting money to be made from this discovery… Time to get out of the massive pharma company I work for I think. Wait, ticked that bugger off already. See you in NZ soon Moose!

  4.   chuck
    May 28th, 2008 | 9:10 am

    check out this article (one of many) re bioremediation a la mushys! http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=597

    as for the bugs eat plastic – jealous of the waterloo teenager, bloody good piece of work. Slightly worried too that a simple piece of investigative experimentation hadn’t been done properly till now. I’d assumed that it couldn’t be done without some GE trickery (and that that hadn’t been a profitable avenue to explore yet or even worse that it had been and that there was no way to subsequently market it). But it is good to have these preconceived notions overturned by simple clever work.

    I now want to get in touch with the guy and ask him if his bugs will work in the presence of dog poo. I see an immediate market if a) he keeps his specific bug mix quiet and b) sells the bugs to councils that have installed the dog poo bins. It amazes me that in this modern day and age every dog crap is individually wrapped in plastic bags and I can see that you’d make a bloody forture if you could turn that amount of landfill waste into something you could easily reclaim (e.g. solid biological waste treatment, perhaps with downstream bioremediation a la mushys…).

    I am now troubled that I am wanting money to be made from this discovery… Time to get out of the massive pharma company I work for I think. Wait, ticked that bugger off already. See you in NZ soon Moose!

  5.   Administrator
    May 28th, 2008 | 1:07 pm

    Cool. Cheers for that.

  6.   chuck
    May 28th, 2008 | 7:57 pm

    sorry for duplicate posting!