Molly Enking in Smithsonian:
To tackle the world’s mounting plastics problem, humans may have to use every tool in the arsenal—even microscopic bacteria and fungi. High in the Swiss Alps and the Arctic, scientists have discovered microbes that can digest plastics—importantly, without the need to apply excess heat. Their findings, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, could one day improve plastic recycling.
From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the tiny microplastics that pervade our drinking water, tea, fish and blood, it’s no secret that plastic pollution is a big, global issue. Since its production exploded during and after World War II, humans have created more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic—and researchers estimate that less than one tenth of the resulting waste has been recycled.