'Plastic-Eating' Bacteria Discovered In The Philippines

In 90 days, the bacteria were able to biodegrade about 5 to 10 percent of a plastic sample.

Researchers from the University of the Philippines-Baguio recently discovered strains of bacteria that are capable of "eating" low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic, according to GMA News. LDPE plastic is the material commonly used in plastic bags, single-use plastic containers, and other common household objects.

In a study published last year in the Philippine Science Letters, the researchers wrote that the bacteria were able to use LDPE as their sole carbon source and biodegrade plastic by between 5.1 percent to 9.9 percent in 90 days of incubation. The bacteria found in Poon Bato Spring were naturally supported by the rich minerals in the area, head researchers Denisse Yans dela Torre, Lee delos Santos, Mari Louise Reyes and Ronan Baculi posited.

“The results showed that selected microorganisms exhibited great potential for LDPE biodegradation, a discovery which can be used in reducing solid waste currently accumulating in natural environments,” the researchers wrote.

The Philippines is one of the top five nations that is responsible for half of the plastic waste that ends up in oceans. The other four are China, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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