Plastic eaters

October 23, 2018


IT is slightly more than a year that a news item about research on plastic-eating fungus appeared in Dawn (Sept 20, 2017).

According to the news Pakistani scientists had discovered a mould that eats up plastic that is trashed and eats dust. The find is the result of a joint research study by China and Pakistan.

The study was done by nine researchers of the two countries. It said plastic that is considered a material that may stay forever is in fact perishable and the researchers have found a fungus that lives on plastic.

The report said the study’s lead author was Dr Sehroon Khan from the World Agroforestry Centre/Kunming Institute of Biology. She was quoted by the WAC as saying that her team had been looking for ways to degrade waste plastic that already existed in nature.

As the news was very interesting, I searched the internet for more information and found that similar work had also been done by Japanese researchers. The net said the Japanese researchers had accidently found some bacteria in the ocean that ate plastic. This was reported by CNN, Fortune, Popular Science and Scientific American. It was also interesting that only Popular Science reported that it was an enzyme, while other sources said it was bacteria.

The difference between the two studies is that the Pakistani scientists found a fungus on land, while the Japanese scientists found bacteria in the ocean. Both studies are important as the world is extremely concerned about garbage disposal, particularly plastic.

I think all the scientists involved must make a joint effort not only to rid the environment of plastic waste, but also watch if the plastic eaters emit harmful substances in the environment, and advise the world about its management.

Yemeen ul Islam Zuberi

Augusta, Georgia, USA

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018

Download the new Dawn mobile app here:

Google Play