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Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Digital Shorts

One million plastic water bottles are sold every minute. Only 14 percent are recycled. The rest end up in landfill or in the ocean, taking years to decompose. Scientists have been working on an enzyme that can destroy all these bottles -- and now they have succeeded by accident.

UK and US scientists discovered an enzyme in the soil of a plastic landfill. While researching the enzyme, they accidentally caused it to mutate and created an enzyme that can break down plastic much faster than landfills. Currently, plastic bottles can only be recycled into carpets or clothing but this new enzyme breaks down clear plastic bottles so that they can be remade into new bottles. This could eliminate the need to produce new plastic bottles.

Right now, it takes several days for the enzyme to start breaking down the plastic. But scientists believe they can speed up the process, now that they know the enzyme can be manipulated. In the future, the enzyme might be able to break down other types of plastics.

The process is far from perfect and may take years to perfect, but it brings the planet closer to reducing the sea of plastic waste.

Watch the video above to learn more.

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