Recycling plastic remains one of the most pressing issues around the world. Some 6.3 bln tons of plastic were produced between the 1950s and 2018 and only 9% have been recycled. It has been discovered that microbes inhabiting a cow’s rumen are capable of processing certain types of plastic.
Scientists from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna believe that this finding may help develop an environmentally clean method to reduce the amount of garbage on the planet, Eurekalert reports.
The scientists studied the effect of rumen fluids on three types of plastic, including polyethylene terephtalate (PET) used in packaging and polyethylene furanoate (PEF) produced from renewable resources. It turns out the microorganisms in the rumen fluids can destroy these types of plastic (the fluids for the study were obtained from a slaughter house).
Apparently, cows regularly consume organic polyethers from plants which have similar structure to plastic. This fact determined success of the experiment. The scientists see a huge potential in this method of recycling plastic waste.