The Guardian view on friendly bacteria: an ally against plastic | Editorial | Opinion

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Plastic bottles at a dump in Northern Thailand. And bacterium that can consume even one kind of plastic could become a desperately-needed ally.’ photograph: Rungroj Yongrit?EPA

Sun22Apr201813:20EDT

Thanks to a genetically engineered enzyme, a bug that eats plastic bottles developed a much bigger appetite for our rubbish. It is a hopeful sign
Plastic bottles at a dump in northern Thailand
Plastic bottles at a dump in northern Thailand. ‘A bacterium that can consume even one kind of plastic could become a desperately needed ally.’ Photograph: Rungroj Yongrit?EPA

Evolution never sleeps. Before 1970 there can have been no significant bacteria that ate plastic, because there was not enough of that plastic in the world to sustain a population. But in 2016 a group of Japanese scientists discovered a new species, Ideonella sakaiensis, in the samples they were sifting from a bottle-recycling plant, that was able to attack and eat PET, the…

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