Study: Plastic eating bacteria discovered from cow stomachs
In a recent study, a group of microbes were discovered in the rumen from cows that can break down certain plastics like polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used in water bottles, pack foods, etc. A rumen is a part of the stomach of animals like cattle that aid in digesting complex food items like fibres, including collagen present in the grass peels of fruits and vegetables. The herbivorous diets cows consume are rich in cutin, found as waxy layers visible on many plant-based products. These animals called the ruminants, make the use of microorganisms to achieve this feat. The researchers argued that because these microorganisms can digest complex polyesters found in cutin, they can also break down other synthetic substances containing such components. PET possesses a closely similar structure as that of cutin, and thus these microbes found in ruminants can potentially also degrade plastics.