With the advent of technology and more focus on sustainability, the use of biodegradable materials and easily recycled plastics have become a priority for people. Research on a massive scale is ongoing to find the solutions for the plastic problem and multiple results come out every now and then. One of the recent findings of such research is the engineered E. coli bacteria that can transform plastic into vanillin which is the major ingredient of vanilla flavoring.
Proposing methods for easy breaking of plastics has become prevalent in the sustainable practices of the industry. One of the ways is to incorporate breaking enzymes into the plastic at the time of manufacturing so it can be broken down easily by bacteria when it is disposed of. Moreover, the unearthing of enzymes is another method that enables the bacteria to help decompose the plastic for better and responsible disposal.
This breakthrough in the field brought by the University of Edinburgh does not only put forward the solution to the global plastic problem by getting rid of the plastic but it produces a useful by-product as well. The kind of plastic which was researched upon is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is abundantly used in packaging of everyday use items like food, shampoos, and other bottles.
Currently, PET could be changed into other forms of its own plastic, but the results of this new research have changed it into an entirely new product by introducing bacteria in decomposing PET material. It was recorded that 79% of this harmful plastic was transformed into vanillin. The research stands as a significant scientific milestone in the industry of sustainability, green chemistry and circular economy. It does not only disintegrate the hazardous material but goes on to add something beneficial in the process. This creates the possibility of further avenues in the field of engineered biology.