Plastic bottles can be recycled into vanilla flavouring?


Team Udayavani, Nov 18, 2021, 11:29 AM IST

Source: unsplash

Consider a future in which our plastic trash problem is physically eaten away as dessert. No, chefs can’t offer “plastic bottle a la mode,” but a study published in the journal Green Chemistry showed how to turn a used plastic bottle into vanilla flavouring.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh utilised an engineered bacterium called Escherichia coli to assist biodegrade polyethylene terephthalate polymer PET plastics into vanillin, which is widely used in the food and cosmetic industries.

According to the university’s news site, researchers believe that this plastic-derived vanillin is likely safe for human ingestion, but more research is needed. Vanillin can be derived naturally from vanilla beans, but because these beans are expensive, synthetic vanillin is significantly more common: This method is said to produce 85 percent of vanillin.

The experiment, according to Stephen Wallace of the University of Edinburgh, demonstrated that plastic might be utilised as a new carbon resource from which high-value items may be manufactured.

According to statistics, around one million plastic bottles are sold every minute around the world, with only 14% recycled. Those recycling bottles, on the other hand, can only be made into opaque fibres for garments or carpets.

Enzymes have already been used to break down plastic trash by scientists. Scientists found a mutant enzyme that tears down plastic bottles by accident in 2018, and later research produced a super-enzyme that consumes plastic bottles even quicker.

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