Chinese scientists identify polythene-eating bacteria

May 30, 2021
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Chinese scientists say they have identified a blend of marine bacteria that appears capable of breaking down polythene, one of the most ubiquitous plastics on the planet and source of much of the pollution in the world’s oceans. While the plastic-eating qualities of bacteria are already well known to the scientific community, the research by the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, is the first to establish a direct link to polythene (PE).

In the study, which was published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials on April 23, a team led by Sun Chaomin said they had discovered a combination of bacteria that was able to break down not only polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – from which bottles are made – but also polythene, which is used to make bags.

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