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Why This Matters:70 million tons of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is produced annually. But it requires a high temperature to melt it down and the result is a gray or black plastic starting material that few companies want to use to package their products so it gets incinerated or ends up in a landfill — it does not get re-used. This new enzyme reduces PET into small single particles in less than a day and it can actually be reused to create things like plastic bottles and does this at a fraction of the cost to make a new bottle from petroleum. What is needed is the recycling infrastructure to grind up and then heat the plastic bottles before the enzyme is added would still make it more expensive in the end.
The scientists took an enzyme discovered in 2012 that showed promise and generated hundreds of mutant enzymes then looked for ones that could work at high heat. Then they mass-produced the mutants in bacteria and screened them to find the ones that could break down PET efficiently. After repeating this process looking for the best of the best, they isolated a mutant enzyme that’s 10,000 times more efficient at breaking down PET than the original one. The researchers then used the broken down PET “building blocks” generated by the enzyme to create new PET and produce plastic bottles that were just as strong as those made from conventional plastics, according to the study in Nature.
What Else Can They Do?
They are working also on a way to deal with the normally-unrecyclable plastic film. They have demonstrated a plastic film that can be compostable at home or in municipal compost piles. They have set their sites on a solution by the end of 2020 for plastic films and carrier bags—and then they will tackle rigid packaging and disposable tableware. The Company’s Deputy CEO said, “These milestones reinforce our ambition to offer the market circular economy solutions that are both competitive and eco-friendly, and which will revolutionize the end of life for plastics and textiles.”
In its annual Sustainability Report, Ford Motors made several key pledges in addition to the promise to be carbon neutral as a company by 2050. In addition, they will use 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035, aspire to achieve zero air emissions from our facilities, only use recycled and renewable plastics in our vehicles globally and eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2030, and achieve true zero waste to landfill across our operations, among other social responsibility commitments.
Why This Matters: Other car companies have focused on products — Daimler Chrysler, VW, and Tesla come to mind.
Yesterday, online retail giant Amazon announced its Climate Pledge Fund–a $2 billion that will invest in companies that develop innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions. As the Verge explained, The fund will help Amazon and other companies adhere to The Climate Pledge initiative it started in September 2019. That pledge committed the company, and others […]
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