300 million tons of plastics are produced each year on the planet. At the same time, around 5000 billion pieces of plastic are floating on the oceans. It is a real scourge for many species of marine animals, and indirectly for human health.

A promising method to end plastic pollution

The UN has understood this, and a historic agreement to create a first global treaty on plastic pollution was reached this year. Legally binding, the latter could see the light of day by 2024.

To move from deeds to words, we will probably need strong enough regulation to act upstream on plastic waste. But to solve today’s pollution problems, innovation will be essential.

And indeed, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has just published a very interesting study on this subject. Researchers have in fact been able to establish that two substances present in the saliva of waxworms (larvae of moths, known as the false wax moth, and which scientists call Galleria mellonella and Achroia grisella) make it possible to decompose polyethylene, a most commonly used plastics.

The scientists, building on previous work published in 2017, noted that these enzymes could act on matter in just hours without any pre-treatment needed.

To take action, one of the avenues envisaged would be to synthetically produce these substances present in worms. But there is a downside according to Federica Bertocchini, the researcher who led this scientific work. Indeed, the use of billions of wax worms to carry out this mission risks generating carbon dioxide when they metabolize polyethylene.

These results are no less interesting for the future. Quoted by NBC Newsthe author states: “Plastic stays in the environment for a long time. It eventually breaks down into small particles, thus becoming the source of micro and nano plastic particles. These plastic particles have been found everywhere from Antarctica to rain and tap water, which not only cause obvious environmental problems but are a growing problem for human health”.

When plastic is converted into kerosene

This is not the first time that avenues have been mentioned to solve this problem of plastic pollution. For example, we told you last year about this technology developed by researchers at Washington State University. The idea is to convert plastics into ingredients for making jet fuel for aircraft. Scientists claim to be able to convert 90% of plastic into kerosene.

Source link