University of Portsmouth, in collaboration with NREL, improved the activity of an enzyme (PETase) discovered in nature, which breaks polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This was rapidly followed by the creation of a “super-enzyme” that doubles the speed of PET breakdown. This new technology drastically speeds up decomposition of used plastics, found in drinking bottles and clothing, to its original building blocks. What takes hundreds of years in nature can be reduced to a matter of days. The discovery offered the first glimmer of hope that biological systems can be modified and improved in the laboratory to recycle a polluting plastic.
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