Plastic pollution including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic has caused a major environmental crisis because of the resistance of plastic to natural degradation. This pollution endangers both wildlife and human health. As of 2017, the recycling rate of PET bottles and jars is only 29.1% and current protocols to recycle PET use energy intensive processes. Therefore, there is a great need to find cheaper and more efficient means of recycling PET plastic.
Prof. Adam Godzik and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed an enzyme with the potential of high PET degrading ability. Based on computer modeling experiments, this enzyme has the potential of high PET degrading ability. This enzyme may be useful because it may have higher PET degrading activity than existing enzymes and could provide a less expensive and more efficient means of recycling PET plastic.
Fig 1: Predicted structure of the UCR PET degrading enzyme.