SCIENCE: Super-Enzyme breaks down plastic in just a few days.

30. September 2020 | Waste, Plastics | via

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MHETase acylation reaction. (Credit:

According to an article on, the enhanced protein is made up of two enzymes produced by a type of bacteria that feeds on plastic bottles, known as Ideonella sakaiensis. Professor John McGeehan, director of the Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) at the University of Portsmouth, said that unlike natural degradation, which can take hundreds of years, the super-enzyme is able to convert the plastic back to its original materials, or building blocks, in just a few days.

“Currently, we get those building blocks from fossil resources such as oil and gas, which is really unsustainable,” he said. “But if we can add enzymes to the waste plastic, we can start to break it down in a matter of days.” He said the process would also allow plastics to be “made and reused endlessly, reducing our reliance on fossil resources”.