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These fungi eat plastic for breakfast

Words by Abi Scaife

Australian scientists have discovered that certain fungi can break down stubborn plastics.

Amazing! Tell me more...

Polypropylene is the sort of plastic that is used in almost everything - from ice cream tubs, to clingfilm. It’s also notoriously difficult to do anything with after it has served its purpose - it doesn’t naturally degrade and just sits there, polluting our landfills.

At least - until now!

What changed?

Australian scientists have found that certain types of fungi - namely aspergillus terreus and engyodontium album - are capable of breaking down polypropylene. 

A study found that, after exposing the plastic to these back garden fungi, they were 27% broken down after 90 days.

However - if the plastic was treated with UV rays or heat first, it only took 140 days for the fungi to break down the plastic completely!

This is a really amazing discovery by researchers at the University of Sydney, that will hopefully help drastically reduce our plastic pollution. While, ultimately, the best thing to do is to stop using plastic - as much as possible - this will certainly go a long way to helping the planet.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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