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Scientists in Japan Discover an Enzyme That Will Help Our Plastic Water Bottle Problem

Odette Perez

Posted on April 18, 2018 13:08

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Scientists in Japan have discovered an enzyme that may be the solution to our plastic bottle waste problem.

With climate change taking a toll and the effect of high temperatures and freezing cold weather affecting us throughout the world, another big problem targeting our planet Earth is pollution. For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out a way to control and get rid of pollution—specifically, plastic. 

From water bottles to plastic bags, the amount of plastic being thrown away in landfills and/or floating in our ocean is alarming. Plastic is harming our environment, ocean life and is on top of the list of pollutants that are hurting our earth. 

Platic Bottles (Photo Credit: Odette Perez) 

According to Down To Earth Materials, it takes approximately 70-450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose. We can all agree that that's a very long time, but thankfully this is soon about to change—and it's all thanks to a group of international scientists in Japan who accidentally discovered and produced an enzyme. This newly discovered enzyme accelerates and breaks down the main component in plastic bottles, Polyethylen Terephthalate (PET).

Plastic Clear Water Bottles (Photo Credit: Odette Perez)

This breaking news was first reported in an interview with The Guardian where scientists share that they first discovered the enzyme back in 2016. The enzyme's job is basically eating or scraping off PET from clear plastic bottles. The clear plastic bottles can then be refurbished and reused. This process will eliminate the manufacturing and mass production of plastic bottles (mind blown, I know).

Just like the wide movement from grocery stores that have implemented the change to stop the production of plastic bags, could this be the first step into controlling the amount of plastic used? This is definitely a huge leap for mankind toward helping our environment and ocean. Another concern about plastic bottles is that they're made of and contain the compound Bisphenol A (BPA). 

Is BPA Safe?

Even though BPA has been used for decades to make plastic products like bottles and food containers, the disputed question has been if BPA is safe or not. Recent studies, like the one conducted by NCBI, shows that high exposure can and will affect women who are pregnant. Some other disputed effects that are allegedly caused by BPA are but not limited to:

  • Thyroid issues
  • Obesity
  • Fertility
  • Cancer

The list is alarming and to think that that's just to name a few of the presumed side effects. Yet, even with these studies, we continue to consume plastic water bottles. As simple as it is to buy a reusable metal water bottle that can keep drinks cold or hot for hours, like the popular Hydro Flask—a stainless steel flask, popular among athletes and millennials. 

The question is: will the water bottle industry do their part in controlling the amount of clear plastic water bottles being made, and also will they work with scientists and the newly discovered enzyme to restore and reuse the bottles that are out in today's market?

Only time will tell.

Odette Perez

Posted on April 18, 2018 13:08

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Source: The Guardian

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