1. Standard memberDeepThought
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    25 Apr '17 00:02
    By which I mean that the caterpillar, Galleria mellonella, eats the plastic not that they've invented a new plastic monster that eats small insects. The article [1] says that the researchers want to understand the process to break down used plastics. Given the problem of plastic in the marine environment, see eg. [2], this could be quite important.

    [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39694553
    [2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37926733
  2. Cape Town
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    25 Apr '17 07:30
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    By which I mean that the caterpillar, Galleria mellonella, eats the plastic not that they've invented a new plastic monster that eats small insects. The article [1] says that the researchers want to understand the process to break down used plastics. Given the problem of plastic in the marine environment, see eg. [2], this could be quite importa ...[text shortened]... uk/news/science-environment-39694553
    [2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37926733
    They come up with something like this every year. It seems scientists (or science news reporters) don't read the news.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110328/full/news.2011.191.html
    2011
    Microbes have been found digesting plastic in landfills, he says, but this is the first evidence of marine bacteria breaking down plastic in the ocean.


    https://www.seeker.com/plastic-eating-microbes-help-marine-debris-sink-1768721094.html
    2014
    The study is the first to document the biological communities living on the tiny particles of debris known as microplastics, and recorded many new types of microbe and invertebrate for the first time.
    "I am excited about this because the 'plastic-eating' microbes could provide solutions for better waste disposal practices on land."


    https://phys.org/news/2016-03-newly-bacteria-plastic-bottles.html
    2016
    Previous studies had found a few species of fungi can grow on PET, but until now, no one had found any microbes that can eat it.


    OK that last one is a particular type of plastic, so maybe the previous ones were for other types.

    Certainly finding the right microbes, breeding them up and distributing them would be a great idea, but at the same time, better waste disposal and recycling is critical too. In this day and age, who is still chucking their plastic bags in the sea? Some serious fines are in order.
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    25 Apr '17 15:401 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    They come up with something like this every year. It seems scientists (or science news reporters) don't read the news.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110328/full/news.2011.191.html
    2011
    [quote]Microbes have been found digesting plastic in landfills, he says, but this is the first evidence of marine bacteria breaking down plastic in the ocean.[/quote ...[text shortened]... y and age, who is still chucking their plastic bags in the sea? Some serious fines are in order.
    Yeah, they should eliminate the problem at the source, stop polluting but that won't happen will it?

    One thing about these plastic eating microbes, have any studies been done on whether or not eating plastic does harm to the bacteria? Like longevity V same microbes fed a non-plastic diet? Genetic mutations of said plastic eating microbes?

    This is not a bleeding heart liberal response, worried about the lives of the poor innocent bacteria, just wondered if maybe they could mutate into a form harmful to macro life forms like fish, mollusks and humans.
  4. Cape Town
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    25 Apr '17 17:04
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Yeah, they should eliminate the problem at the source, stop polluting but that won't happen will it?
    Why not? Many people do recycle, many cities do have waste disposal systems.
    Do you chuck your rubbish in the oceans?

    This is not a bleeding heart liberal response, worried about the lives of the poor innocent bacteria, just wondered if maybe they could mutate into a form harmful to macro life forms like fish, mollusks and humans.
    Life mutates all the time. Mutating while eating plastic is one of the least likely ways for bacteria to mutate into organisms harmful to other life forms. The only dangerous possibility would be if they become more common and started eating things like underground plastic piping or even overground plastics exposed to water. I rather doubt they could ever get to the point of not needing water and simply attacking all plastics in sight. Imagine waking up one morning to find your computer is mouldy, and its spreading along the power cable and will soon infect your houses electrical system!
  5. Standard memberDeepThought
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    25 Apr '17 18:16
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Why not? Many people do recycle, many cities do have waste disposal systems.
    Do you chuck your rubbish in the oceans?

    [b]This is not a bleeding heart liberal response, worried about the lives of the poor innocent bacteria, just wondered if maybe they could mutate into a form harmful to macro life forms like fish, mollusks and humans.

    Life mutate ...[text shortened]... ldy, and its spreading along the power cable and will soon infect your houses electrical system![/b]
    I think they are thinking in terms of an industrial process. So either work out how the organism digests the material and replicate that using a chemical process, or by breeding the microorganism. What one could do is genetically engineer a microbe to eat the material and release butane, or some other useful waste product, and have it obligate anaerobic, which would deal with your problem of encouraging a bug that eats through plastics we want.
  6. Subscribersonhouse
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    25 Apr '17 21:48
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Why not? Many people do recycle, many cities do have waste disposal systems.
    Do you chuck your rubbish in the oceans?

    [b]This is not a bleeding heart liberal response, worried about the lives of the poor innocent bacteria, just wondered if maybe they could mutate into a form harmful to macro life forms like fish, mollusks and humans.

    Life mutate ...[text shortened]... ldy, and its spreading along the power cable and will soon infect your houses electrical system![/b]
    That is a common sci fi theme, nanomites designed to eat plastic, metals and such, rendering everything useless, a great weapon if you can control it๐Ÿ™‚
  7. Cape Town
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    25 Apr '17 21:571 edit
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think they are thinking in terms of an industrial process.
    Useful, I am sure, but no use for dealing with the plastic in the oceans. For that, we need to breed up better sea going bacteria which we then seed the oceans with. But of course, step one is to stop chucking our rubbish in the sea. Its really not that hard to use a rubbish bin.
  8. Standard memberDeepThought
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    25 Apr '17 23:35
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Useful, I am sure, but no use for dealing with the plastic in the oceans. For that, we need to breed up better sea going bacteria which we then seed the oceans with. But of course, step one is to stop chucking our rubbish in the sea. Its really not that hard to use a rubbish bin.
    Sure, but what do you do with it once you've collected it. I'm pretty sure people don't visit the seaside just to dump their plastic waste in the sea. So, that the waste cannot be processed is connected with the reason it is getting there. The article was saying something like 300 million tons of the stuff is produced each year. So a system where the waste has economic value, rather than just being waste, would drive a solution to the problem.
  9. Cape Town
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    26 Apr '17 07:41
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Sure, but what do you do with it once you've collected it.
    When people are willing to sort it, it can by recycled to a high degree. I believe plastic can also be burnt in incinerators to produce electricity. Denmark for example produces heat and electricity from its incineration plants. Direct landfill is the worst option but still better than dumping it in the sea.
  10. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    26 Apr '17 09:44
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    When people are willing to sort it, it can by recycled to a high degree. I believe plastic can also be burnt in incinerators to produce electricity. Denmark for example produces heat and electricity from its incineration plants. Direct landfill is the worst option but still better than dumping it in the sea.
    Some guy in Scotland is using waste plastic to resurface roads.
    Early days yet but looks promising.
  11. Cape Town
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    26 Apr '17 10:501 edit
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    Some guy in Scotland is using waste plastic to resurface roads.
    Early days yet but looks promising.
    Unless he is turning it into tar, it probably won't work. And it better not be this one:
    https://www.plasticroad.eu/en/

    That's a scam.
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