If ordinary plastic bags would rot away like banana peels there’s no doubt a host of environmental problems would be solved, the fate of the turtle above included. And one 11th grader from Canada set out to make that dream come true as part of his school science project. A wildly successful endeavor he figures will make them decompose in just 3 months.
But how did this extraordinary young scientist named Daniel Burd pull it off?
Well, he decided the fact that they do, eventually, decompose after 1,000 years on their own meant there must be something out there causing it, and postulated that it might well be naturally occurring microorganisms behind it.
So he set about with the good old-fashioned scientific method as his guide, searching for the microorganisms, rarely found in nature, that actually do make plastic decompose.
Ultimately, he identified two strains of bacteria that work together to pull it off, with Sphingomonas serving as the primary decomposer with help from Pseudomonas.
And according to Burd, industrial application should be easy, "All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags."
As many folks know, the simplest solutions are usually the ones that work best. And this kid has clearly come up with a potentially world changing idea.
So congrats from all of us here at TreeHugger, where we are inspired by your creativity!
The TH Interview with America's Top Young Scientist of the Year!