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Plastic-eating enzyme ‘cocktail’ recycles plastic waste ‘endlessly’

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plastic eating enzyme cocktail recycles plastic waste endlessly

Scientists have been inspired by Pacman to create a plastic-eating ‘cocktail’, which could help eradicate plastic waste. 

It’s made up of two enzymes – called PETase and MHETase – produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles, called Ideonella sakaiensis.  

Unlike natural degradation, which can take hundreds of years, the super-enzyme is able to convert the plastic back to its original ‘building blocks’ in a few days. 

The two enzymes work together like ‘two Pac-men joined by a piece of string’ munching down snack pellets in the popular video game. 

The new super-enzyme digests plastic up to six times faster than the original PETase enzyme alone, which was discovered by the team in 2018. 

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A model of the cocktail consisting of the MHETase and PETase enzyme (red and blue, respectively)

A model of the cocktail consisting of the MHETase and PETase enzyme (red and blue, respectively)

A model of the cocktail consisting of the MHETase and PETase enzyme (red and blue, respectively)

It targets polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most common thermoplastic, which is used to make single-use drinks bottles, clothing and carpets and usually takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment. 

‘Currently, we get those building blocks from fossil resources such as oil and gas, which is really unsustainable,’ Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth told PA news agency. 

‘But if we can add enzymes to the waste plastic, we can start to break it down in a matter of days.’ 

In 2018, Professor McGeehan and his team accidentally discovered that an engineered version of one of the enzymes, known as PETase, was able to break down plastic in mere days.

For their new study, the team mixed PETase with the second enzyme, called MHETase, and found ‘the digestion of the plastic bottles literally doubled’. 

British scientists have come up with a novel way of improving the recycling of the most common type of plastic waste using enzymes

British scientists have come up with a novel way of improving the recycling of the most common type of plastic waste using enzymes

British scientists have come up with a novel way of improving the recycling of the most common type of plastic waste using enzymes

The researchers then connected the two enzymes together in the lab, like ‘two Pac-men joined by a piece of string’, using genetic engineering.

‘PETase attacks the surface of the plastics and MHETase chops things up further, so it seemed natural to see if we could use them together, mimicking what happens in nature,’ said Professor McGeehan.

‘Our first experiments showed that they did indeed work better together, so we decided to try to physically link them.

‘It took a great deal of work on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was worth the effort – we were delighted to see that our new chimeric enzyme is up to three times faster than the naturally evolved separate enzymes, opening new avenues for further improvements.’  

Professor McGeehan also used the Diamond Light Source,  a synchrotron in Oxfordshire that uses intense beams of X-rays 10 billion times brighter than the Sun to act as a microscope powerful enough to see individual atoms. 

This allowed the team to determine the 3D structure of the MHETase enzyme, giving them the molecular blueprints to begin engineering a faster enzyme system.    

Academics used the powerful x-ray machine, The Diamond Light Source (pictured) in Oxfordshire to map 3D structures of the enzymes

Academics used the powerful x-ray machine, The Diamond Light Source (pictured) in Oxfordshire to map 3D structures of the enzymes

 Academics used the powerful x-ray machine, The Diamond Light Source (pictured) in Oxfordshire to map 3D structures of the enzymes

Tests also showed that this super-enzyme was able to break down PET, which is also used in soft drinks and fruit juice packaging. 

Although it is said to be highly recyclable, discarded PET persists for hundreds of years in the environment before it degrades. 

Aside from PET, the super-enzyme also works on PEF (polyethylene furanoate), a sugar-based bioplastic used in beer bottles, although it’s unable to break down other types of plastic.  

The team are now looking at ways to even further speed up the break-down process, so the technology can be used for commercial purposes.

‘The faster we can make the enzymes, the quicker we can break down the plastic, and the more commercially viable it will be,’ Professor McGeehan told PA.

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.                          

Eight million tonnes of plastics find their way into the ocean every year

Of 30 billion plastic bottles used by UK households each year, only 57 per cent are currently recycled.

With half of these going to landfill, half of all plastic bottles that are recycled go to waste.

Around 700,000 plastic bottles a day end up as litter.

This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.

Bottles are a major contributor to the increasing amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans. 

Researchers warned eight million tonnes of plastics currently find their way into the ocean every year – the equivalent of one truckload every minute. 

The amount of plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans will outweigh fish by 2050 unless the world takes drastic action to further recycle, a report released in 2016 revealed. 

At current rates, this will worsen to four truckloads per minute in 2050 and outstrip native life to become the largest mass inhabiting the oceans.

An overwhelming 95 per cent of plastic packaging – worth £65 – £92billion – is lost to the economy after a single use, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report stated.

And available research estimates that there are more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today.

It is estimated that about eight million metric tons of plastic find their way into the world's oceans every year

It is estimated that about eight million metric tons of plastic find their way into the world's oceans every year

Plastic pollution is ruining the ecosystems of the world, both marine and terrestrial. It litters shorelines, snags animals and suffocates entire populations of animals  

So much plastic is dumped into the sea each year that it would fill five carrier bags for every foot of coastline on the planet, scientists have warned. 

More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. 

The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20. 

The US and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.

While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science.

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Blue Moon: Once-in-19-years event to occur on Halloween night

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blue moon once in 19 years event to occur on halloween night

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is set to rise on the same day. 

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET.

Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1.

The cosmic display happens seven times every 19 years, which means the world will not see the next one on October 31 until 2039.

However, this is the first time a Blue Moon has appeared across the world on Halloween since World War II.

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Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

It should make for a spectacular show on Halloween that has not happened since 1944.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia.

The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

This issue published an an article called Once in a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, who referred to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac, but with a simpler definition.

‘Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year,’ he wrote.

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

‘This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two.’

‘This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.’

A moon can turn blue, but the signing is very rare.

NASA shares that this is also deemed the Hunter’s Moon, the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon that appeared on October 1. 

‘According to the Farmer’s Almanac, with the leaves falling and the deer fattened, this was the time to hunt. Since the harvesters had reaped the fields, hunters could easily see the animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them),’ reads NASA’s statement.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia 

‘The earliest use of the term ‘Hunter’s Moon’ cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710.’ 

On Halloween night, Jupiter will appear in the southwest and Mars will shine brightly in the east-southeast.

However, at 2am ET we ‘fall back’ one hour to 1am ET -but the good news is, you will have an extra hour of sleep. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Blue Moon: Rare lunar spectacle WORLDWIDE for first time since WWII

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blue moon rare lunar spectacle worldwide for first time since wwii

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is set to rise on the same day. 

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET.

Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1.

The cosmic display happens seven times every 19 years, which means the world will not see the next one on October 31 until 2039.

However, this is the first time a Blue Moon has appeared across the world on Halloween since World War II.

Scroll down for video 

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

It should make for a spectacular show on Halloween that has not happened since 1944.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia.

The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

This issue published an an article called Once in a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, who referred to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac, but with a simpler definition.

‘Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year,’ he wrote.

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

‘This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two.’

‘This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.’

A moon can turn blue, but the signing is very rare.

NASA shares that this is also deemed the Hunter’s Moon, the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon that appeared on October 1. 

‘According to the Farmer’s Almanac, with the leaves falling and the deer fattened, this was the time to hunt. Since the harvesters had reaped the fields, hunters could easily see the animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them),’ reads NASA’s statement.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia 

‘The earliest use of the term ‘Hunter’s Moon’ cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710.’ 

On Halloween night, Jupiter will appear in the southwest and Mars will shine brightly in the east-southeast.

However, at 2am ET we ‘fall back’ one hour to 1am ET -but the good news is, you will have an extra hour of sleep. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

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Blue Moon: Rare lunar phenomenon to be seen worldwide on Halloween

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blue moon rare lunar phenomenon to be seen worldwide on halloween

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is set to rise on the same day. 

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET.

Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1.

The cosmic display happens seven times every 19 years, which means the world will not see the next one on October 31 until 2039.

However, this is the first time a Blue Moon has appeared across the world on Halloween since World War II.

Scroll down for video 

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 - a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

Legend has it that ghosts and spirits are more active on Halloween, but these ghoulish entities are not the only things coming out on October 31 – a rare Blue Moon is also set to rise on the same day. Pictured is a Blue Moon snapped in 2018 hanging over San Francisco, California

It should make for a spectacular show on Halloween that has not happened since 1944.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia.

The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine.

This issue published an an article called Once in a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, who referred to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac, but with a simpler definition.

‘Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year,’ he wrote.

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth's natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

The full moon phase, which is the lunar orbs position in in orbit, begins on Saturday at 10:49am ET. Earth’s natural satellite will not shine blue, but bares the name as it is the second full moon to appear this month – the first occurs October 1

‘This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two.’

‘This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.’

A moon can turn blue, but the signing is very rare.

NASA shares that this is also deemed the Hunter’s Moon, the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon that appeared on October 1. 

‘According to the Farmer’s Almanac, with the leaves falling and the deer fattened, this was the time to hunt. Since the harvesters had reaped the fields, hunters could easily see the animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them),’ reads NASA’s statement.

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia

People in North and South America will have a glimpse of the Blue Moon, along with those in India, Europe and Asia. The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month comes from an article in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Pictured is the Blue Moon hanging over Russia 

‘The earliest use of the term ‘Hunter’s Moon’ cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710.’ 

On Halloween night, Jupiter will appear in the southwest and Mars will shine brightly in the east-southeast.

However, at 2am ET we ‘fall back’ one hour to 1am ET -but the good news is, you will have an extra hour of sleep. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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