Every year people produce dozens of tons of plastic waste, which has serious economic and environmental consequences.
Plastic is one of the biggest threats to the Earth’s ecology today. And scientists have been working on a solution to this problem for a long time. And now finally great news, they managed to find a solution to the problem of plastic pollution.
The fact is that scientists from the University of Edinburgh said that they have learned how to turn plastic into vanillin. E. coli will help them in this, according to the University’s website.
According to the experts, the plastic crisis facing the world has led to an urgent need to develop new ways to recycle polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a strong and lightweight plastic widely used for food, juice and water packaging.
Every year about 50 million tons of PET waste is produced, with serious economic and environmental consequences. Recycling PET is possible, but existing processes create products that also pollute the environment.
Now scientists from the University of Edinburgh have noticed that the monomer that forms PET – terephthalic acid – is able to turn into vanillin through a chain of five chemical reactions. They made changes in E. coli that allowed it to convert terephthalic acid into vanillin.
The researchers conducted laboratory experiments by adding genetically modified bacteria to a degraded plastic bottle. The bacteria were able to turn the plastic into vanillin at room temperature. More research is needed, however, according to the scientists.
As we know, vanillin is widely used in the food and cosmetics industry, as well as in the production of herbicides and cleaning products. According to scientists, global demand for vanillin exceeded 37,000 tons in 2018. By 2025, demand is projected to increase to 59,000 tons.