Using microbes to convert PET into a high-value plastic could encourage more recycling
A new recycling process enlists the help of bacteria to turn the ubiquitous plastic PET into a biodegradable plastic that could replace the cellophane in food packaging.
The method, described in a paper posted online and set to appear in Environmental Science & Technology, could encourage more recycling of the billions of plastic bottles consumed every year.
PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is one of the most
familiar kinds of plastic: Billions of pounds of PET bottles are sold every
year in the United States.
But less than a quarter of those are recycled, according to a 2006 study
by the trade group the National Association for PET Container Resources .
Getting high-quality material — such as plastics suitable for packaging