Need some good news? It’s possible to break down water bottle plastic.
Scientists recently discovered a method for breaking down certain types of plastics that we use every day for water bottles & clothing.
With so much at stake, can this method help us in the battle to save planet Earth?
You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best & worst organic mattresses, best & worst cookware, and best & worst collagen, now join us to discover the latest method scientists are using to break down PET plastic.
Scientists Discovered Enzyme That Breaks Down PET Plastic–Creating New Method For Recycling
Researchers from France published in the journal Nature an announcement of their latest discovery–an enzyme that breaks down polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Within 10 hours of productivity of this enzyme with PET plastic, about 90% of the PET is depolymerized.
Specifically, it’s with a productivity of 16.7 grams of terephthalate per liter per hour.
Before this method was created, current degradation solutions only degraded 1% of PET plastic within several weeks.
This method may be helpful in alleviating some of the excess plastic we find in our oceans.
PET Plastic Dominates the Single-Use Plastic Economy
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most abundant polyester plastic in the world, and near 70 million metric tons of it are reported to be produced annually specifically for use in textiles and packaging.
It’s represented as a #1 in recycling facilities when you recycle.
This plastic allows brands to keep products fresh, keep consistent during temperature changes, and all with an affordable price to their bottom line.
But the problem is, before today, it wasn’t possible to break down in the environment, so it had to be recycled.
But recycled PET accounts for only 12-14% of plastic packaging, so it wasn’t possible to recycle as much as was produced.
Here are some examples of what may be inside your home that is made from PET plastic:
- water bottles (single-use)
- carbonated soft drinks (single-use)
- plastic clamshells for fruits & vegetables (single-use)
- polyester clothing
- microfiber towels & cleaning cloths
- polyester yarn in the carpet
- balloons made from mylar (single-use)
As you can see, this type of plastic is something you see and use every day.
Can This Technology Help Us Clean Up the Oceans
The French company that created this technology, Carbios, says they are committed to conducting industrial-scale trials in 2021.
For this, they’ve partnered with PepsiCo, Nestle, and Suntory to scale and commercialize the technology.
Here’s a video directly from their social media platform to explain the technology and how it’s going to be used in the future:
Current recycling efforts only cover about 12-14% of PET waste and the rest ends up in landfills and our oceans.
There, they leach potentially toxic colorants and additives into our oceans and soil.
If successful, Carbios claims this process (which is proprietary) could represent a “paradigm shift” in the way PET is recycled.
It has the potential to create a true circular economy for plastics.
So yes, that means it could potentially help us clean up the ocean and landfills with PET plastic and at the very least create something going forward that is better for the environment.
Carbios is also using similar technology to create similar PET plastics that are biodegradable using similar enzyme processes.
“CARBIOS is pioneering the use of enzymes to degrade the polymers that make up plastic materials. This breakthrough innovation developed by CARBIOS involves embedding enzymes into plastic materials, thus enabling them to fully biodegrade themselves with a controlled life span, after use or while the plastics are scattered in the environment, into base molecules that can be assimilated by the micro-organisms in nature.”
Let’s hope this new type of plastic can be used in place of more single-use plastics.
But What About the Microplastics in Water Bottles?
Yes, microplastics are a big issue with bottled water.
Even if we have found it’s able to be broken down after a certain date, it still has the ability to leach microplastics into your water or food.
Orbmedia.com recently published a report looking into microplastic in water bottles.
They found microplastics in 93% of the 250 water bottles collected from all over the globe, including microplastics of polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
So what’s the big deal?
Well, the concerns about ingesting microplastics stem from their ability to accumulate high concentrations of pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
These highly toxic and persistent contaminants can then be absorbed into gut tissue according to a study published in June of 2016 by the European Food Safety Authority Journal.
Because of these studies, Mamavation still doesn’t recommend you store food or beverages in plastic.