Renewable Energy And Plastic-Eating Enzymes – April 2018 Recycling News

April has been a HUGE month for renewable energy and progress towards reducing the amount of plastic that we have littering our streets and oceans. 

UK runs on renewable energy for THREE days in a row

Records have shown that Britain was powered for a whole 76 hours by renewable energy this month! This is the first time in UK history that this feat has been achieved.

In lieu of coal, nearly a third of Britain’s electricity was supplied by natural gas, followed by wind power and nuclear energy on around a quarter each. Solar power made up over 6% of the total renewable energy mix.

Experts have said to expect more renewable energy milestones this year. “Ever rising renewable capacity in the UK will see these records fall more and more frequently, clearly showing progress made over the past decade or two.” Said Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Did you know 1 million plastic bottles are sold around the globe each minute, yet only 14% of them are being recycled? It’s no wonder that the downsides of plastic are being brought more into the public eye recently. New research indicates the number of tiny plastic pieces polluting the world’s oceans is vastly more significant than initially thought.

It was previously thought that these types of micro-plastics could take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. However, it has now been revealed that a new type of mutant enzyme is capable of breaking down PET (the plastic of drinking bottles) in only a few days.

The new research was fuelled by the 2016 discovery in Japan of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic. While tweaking the enzyme to track its evolution and development, the team of scientists accidentally improved its ability to eat PET by 20%.

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

Cotton buds, stirrers and straws – Oh my!

In an attempt to cut back on plastic waste and a build-up in landfill sites, the UK government are proposing a new ban on single-use plastic products. Ideally, the ban will have a similar effect to the 5p carrier bag charge implemented in 2015.

It has been revealed that the latest single-use plastic product to be banned is none other than the humble cotton bud, a staple in bathroom cabinets across the country. Other guilty parties are plastic straws (February’s news) and drinks stirrers.

The ban itself is still in the very early stages, with consultation taking place later this year, though it is thought that the ban could come into effect in early 2019.  Companies will have to find more eco-friendly alternatives if they wish to continue manufacturing these products.

 

In the meantime, why don’t you check out our environmentally friendly Cardboard Recycling Bins?