Prince Charles has been a lifelong champion of the environment, from being the first royal to own an electric car to his eco-friendly garden, his work raising awareness of environmental issues has earned him recognition and awards from environmental groups. And since plastic is a big blight on our environment and oceans, a recent scientific breakthrough could make Prince Charles very happy indeed. Scientists in France have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles in 10 hours, marking a new era for recycling. The enzyme, first discovered in a compost heap of leaves eight years ago and all but forgotten about, was able to reduce the plastic bottles into simple elements that could then be made into food-grade plastic – including plastic bottles. Currently, recycled plastic can only be used to make a small number of products, including clothing and carpets.
Prince Charles is a big champion for environmental issues
The discovery, by 20 scientists at French company Carbios, has been hailed as a "breakthrough" for recycling. Carbios is said to be aiming to use this new technology for industrial-scale recycling within five years, and has partnered with major companies including L'Oreal, Nestle and Pepsi to research and develop the process further.
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Currently, Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) which is the plastic used in water bottles, clothing and packaging, is tricky to recycle. When different coloured plastics are melted down during the recycling process, it leaves a grey or black plastic material that isn't considered good enough quality to be resued. The new enzyme would mean it'd be much more reusable - and with almost 70 million tons of PET manufactured every year, this could be a massive game-changer for the recycling industry.
The breakthrough could revolutionise the recycling industry
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"It's a real breakthrough in the recycling and manufacturing of PET," said Dr. Saleh Jabarin, a member of Carbios' scientific committee in a company statement about the new discovery. "Thanks to the innovative technology developed by Carbios, the PET industry will become truly circular, which is the goal for all players in this industry, especially brand-owners, PET producers and our civilization as a whole."
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