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Polycarbonate plastic is in everything from water bottles to CDs and DVDs and thousands of other consumer products. Recently, it has even worked its way into the news with reports that bisphenol A (BPA), a component of the plastic, can cause gender mutations and endocrine problems.
Disposing of polycarbonate in a way that is safe and environmentally sound has been a problem but a new process may be the solution.Scientists studying the decay of polycarbonate exposed the plastic to three different fungi, including white-rot fungus, known for their remediation abilities. Half of the plastic was pretreated with ultraviolet light exposure and heat.
At the end of a 12-month trial the untreated plastic showed almost no signs of decomposition. The treated plastic, however, was almost completely decomposed, with no emissions of BPA recorded.
This early success could be the first step toward developing a means of disposing of the more than 2.7 million tons of plastic containing BPA that is produced each year.