BIOPLASTICS: Designed To Break Down.

24. April 2021 | Plastics, Waste, Material | via News.berkeley.edu

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A sample film of PCL with embedded enzymes (Credit: Adam Lau/Berkeley Engineering)

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have invented a way to make compostable plastics break down more easily. “The new process involves embedding polyester-eating enzymes in the plastic as it's made. These enzymes are protected by a simple polymer wrapping that prevents the enzyme from untangling and becoming useless. When exposed to heat and water, the enzyme shrugs off its polymer shroud and starts chomping the plastic polymer into its building blocks—in the case of PLA, reducing it to lactic acid, which can feed the soil microbes in compost. The polymer wrapping also degrades.” At room temperature, 80% of the modified PLA fibers degraded entirely within about one week.

 

Nature has learnt how to eat our plastic!