Microorganisms to produce environment friendly plastic
The world is constantly facing the menace of plastic pollution. If we look around we will find that we are using plastics in abundance, almost everything around us has plastic directly or indirectly. While we cannot deny that many efforts are being done to minimize the use of plastics and to recycle them, still it is a major cause of pollution and toxicity.
Most of us are aware of the environmental hazards of plastic, but we have not been able to get rid of it. Most of the plastics are reusable, but the ones used in daily lives are not. Particularly, plastic bags do not decompose, cannot be recycled and are a major source of the ocean and marine pollution.
Microorganisms are used to produce environment-friendly sustainable plastic? How
The scientists have come up with a solution to this problem. They have developed biodegradable plastics which are derived from microorganisms that thrive on seaweed, produce zero toxic waste and can be recycled into organic waste.
According to a report by the United Nations plastics cause around 90% of marine pollution and are a major reason for the death of aquatic animals. “Plastics take hundreds of years to decay. So bottles, packaging, and bags create plastic ‘continents’ in the oceans, endanger animals and pollute the environment,” said Alexander Golberg from Tel Aviv University in Israel.
The commonly used plastic is made from petroleum products and releases chemical residues in the process. Bioplastic is a visible solution, but the raw material for bioplastics need to cultivated like crops. They need agricultural land and fresh water supplies. This means that it is not practically possible in countries with lesser land or water supply. Also, this will mean additional burden to the cultivable land.
But the new method makes use of marine microorganisms which feed on seaweeds. Thus, they can be freely cultivated in countries where algae and seaweeds are found. Countries like India, China and Israel can easily utilize this technology to make bioplastics. The researchers harnessed microorganisms that feed on seaweed to produce a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).
Research is being done to find the best bacteria and algae that would be most suitable for producing polymers for bioplastics with different properties. This solution, when implemented, will be a landmark in the approach of sustainable and holistic development.