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Enzymes can degrade plastics

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

Plastic products are a cemented part of everyday life, from containers and clothes to bags, bottles and food packaging.

However, plastics resist degradation, instead breaking down into smaller particles that invade natural ecosystems and threaten the organisms living in them, including humans.  Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) ­ a polymer widely used in common plastic products due to its durability and cheap cost ­ is a primary target for scientists to reduce plastic pollution.

Utilizing enzymes and other biology-based methods to break down PET in plastic showing promise in the scientific community and forming the basis of many novel research projects. Scientists identified a mutated form of an enzyme called leaf-branch compost cutinase (LCC) that degrades PET.

This mutant LCC also retains the monomers of PET so that it can be repeatedly remade into high-quality plastic products, an example of how plastic can be recycled in a circular economy. The LCC mutant enzyme can become a permanent solution to plastic recycling and can provide a insight for future enzyme studies for plastic recycling.

Vijay Kumar H K (Environmentalist), Raichur, Karnataka



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