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Microbes may help Plastic Waste Management at Certain Temperature

Captured from BBC

Plastic pollution is one of the biggest headaches on this planet, as it covers from the tip of mountains to the bottom of the ocean. Every day, more than 60 million plastic waste bottles are sent to landfill or incinerated, and 10 million bottles go to the sea. Many scientists from countries have been seeking solutions to the “Plastic Problem.”

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research WSL recently discovered that we have some help. They buried pieces of plastic in the Alps and the Artic and found that certain temperatures may be key to solving the problem. The scientists posted the study and discovery at

In their studies, there are certain microbes in the Arctic and the Alps that eat up certain types of plastic left in their environment. Using microbes to break down plastics at as low as 59 degrees Fahrenheit is more cost-efficient compared with other microorganisms to eat up plastic at required temperatures of at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit to process.

As part of the research, Dr. Joel Rüthi from WSL and their team took samples of 34 types of microbes – 19 types of bacteria and 15 types of fungi – which were found growing on plastic that had been kept in the ground for one year in Greenland, Svalbard, and Switzerland. They then let these tiny organisms grow in darkness at temperatures of 15C in a laboratory before seeing if they would be able to break down plastic.

The plastics they tested included: Polyethylene (PE) – which is non-biodegradable – polyester-polyurethane (PUR) – which is biodegradable – as well as two other biodegradable plastic mixtures, polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and polylactic acid (PLA), according to BBC.

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