Fungus that eats plastic may help the environment
3rd April 2017

Who’d have a thought a Fungus would be the answer to our environmental issues? It’s not quite a giant mushroom that you can feed your plastic bottles to, but the ability it has to break down plastics could make a great difference to how we manage our plastic waste.

If you don’t recycle your plastics then you are a terrible person. There’s no excuse – your wheelie bins are very clearly marked. It’s not difficult. Plastic is a very commonly used material but a lot of it ends up going to waste once its use has finished. Unfortunately, it’s also killing our planet when not dealt with properly.

Landfill Fungus Plastics

Landfills ruin the landscape. Hopefully they can be massively reduced in size in the near future. (Image: Wikipedia)

Even though there are many opportunities to recycle our plastics now, a lot of it still ends up in landfills. As you know, plastic doesn’t break down in the same vein as our organic waste. It lies around for years, making a terrible and semi-permanent mess. However, a bunch of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences may well have a solution to this growing problem. A simple soil fungus may be able to help us out.

Aspergillus tubingensis

Found in a rubbish tip in Pakistan, this fungus was found after researches took samples of soil and various pieces of rubbish in hope to find an answer. Aspergillus tubingensis is a fungus normally found in soil, but once taken to research labs it turns out that it will happily grow upon plastics too. In fact, it’s estimated that this fungus could break down plastics within weeks. Much better than the few hundred years that they currently break down at.

Aspergillus tubingensis fungus plastics

Aspergillus tubingensis is darkly pigmented, and has been explored for industrial usage before. (Image: Bioimágenes)

This breakthrough is excellent news for our planet. It deserves much better treatment than it already receives, and hopefully a widespread use of this fungus could accelerate how quickly our plastic waste is broken down.

I’m not a vegan by the way. This is just interesting, yet important stuff!

Source: Z News


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Deputy editor at Man Wants and real ale drinker. Only Malcolm can tell him what to do.