New compost enzyme speeds up plastic breakdown

A plastic container in a landfill may take hundreds of years to break down, but a new enzyme might destroy it in a day.

PHL7 was spotted in a German graveyard eating compost.

After the lab, it decomposed 90% PET in 16 hours. Scientists have identified several natural 'plastic eaters,' but PHL7 is the quickest.

LLC was discovered in a Japanese recycling factory in 2016. It's been a gold-standard plastic chomper since then. PHL7 is twice as quick.

Since 2016, scientists have altered LLC to generate a more voracious mutant, yet even it can learn from PHL7.

"The Leipzig enzyme may help create energy-saving plastic recycling methods," says Leipzig University microbiologist Wolfgang Zimmermann.

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