This 'bacteria cocktail' can eat plastic within weeks

Break down plastic with plastic-eating bacteria,
This is what these two young scientists are doing in Hungary.
They have developed a cocktail of bacteria that uses up all single-use plastic in seven weeks
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without prior chemical treatment or processing.
"I'm Liz Madaras and Krisztina Levay - and we're co-founders of Poliloop, a Hungarian biotech company that developed bacteria-eating bacteria."
The cocktail ingredients are very secret,
However, Liz Madaras, CEO of Poliloop, says if it can be mass produced.
This could be a significant step towards reducing plastic waste worldwide.
“We saw plastic pollution as a very, very relevant issue. So we decided to combine biotechnology and chemical engineering to create a medium that would actually bring plastics back into the natural life cycle that they once belonged to. "
After two weeks, the process produces shreds of plastic.
This then turns into a brown liquid "mud" by the end of the seventh week.
Initial laboratory tests show that the sludge can safely be used as a soil improver.
{Liz Madaras} “The breakdown process is very similar to the disappearance of these leaves from autumn to spring. A consortium of microbes biodegrade them. And that's exactly what we've done with our bacteria and fossil-based plastics. If it works on a large scale, it can have global implications, as the problem with plastics so far has been that they lingered in the environment forever. But as soon as we can biodegrade them, bring them back into the natural environment, they become part of nature again, part of the global recycling system, not just the human one. "
There are successful attempts to break down plastic around the world, but Poliloop breaks down all types of plastic, including multi-layer packaging and mixed plastic compounds.
{Liz Madaras} “However, there have been successful attempts at PET degradation. In our case, however, we make all kinds of plastics from resin identification one to seven, and that includes other plastics such as multilayer packaging or mixed plastic blends. "
Poliloop now has investments to build its first industrial facility
where they test the deterioration on a larger scale.
They're also experimenting with what their cocktail could do with other types of fossil contaminants like diesel.
Video transcript
- Breaking down plastic with plastic-eating bacteria - that's what these two young scientists in Hungary are doing.
Liz Madras: We have a few cocktails here, special mixes for special things.
- You have developed a bacteria cocktail that uses single-use plastics in seven weeks with no prior chemical treatment or processing.
Liz Madaras: I'm Liz Madaras.
KRISZTINA LEVAY: I'm Krisztina Lévay.
LIZ MADARAS: And we are co-founders of Poliloop, a Hungarian biotech company that developed plastic-eating bacteria.
- The cocktail ingredients are very secret. However, Liz Madaras, CEO of Poliloop, says if it can be mass produced it could be a significant step towards reducing plastic waste worldwide.
Liz Madaras: We saw plastic pollution as a very, very relevant issue. So we decided to combine biotechnology and chemical engineering to create a medium that could actually bring plastics back to the natural life cycle they once belonged to.
- After two weeks, pieces of plastic appear.
Liz Madaras: This is what it will look like in two weeks.
- This then turns into a brown liquid sludge by the end of the seventh week.
- In seven weeks, it's about - this sludge that is the end product of our process.
- Initial laboratory tests show that the sludge can safely be used as a soil improver.
Liz Madaras: The breakdown process is very similar to the disappearance of these leaves - from autumn to spring. A consortium of microbes biodegrade them. And that is exactly what we do with our bacteria and fossil-based plastics. If it works on a large scale, it can have global implications, as the problem with plastics so far has been that they lingered in the environment forever. But as soon as we can biodegrade them and bring them back into the natural environment, they will become part of nature again, part of the global recycling system - not just the human one.
- They are worldwide successful attempts to break down plastic. However, Poliloop degrades all types of plastics, including multilayer packaging and mixed plastic blends.
Liz Madaras: However, there are successful attempts at PET degradation. In our case, however, we make all types of plastics, from resin identification 1 to 7, and this includes other plastics as well, such as multi-layer packaging or mixed plastic blends.
- Poliloop has now invested in the construction of its first industrial facility, which will test the deterioration on a larger scale. They're also experimenting with what their cocktail could do with other types of fossil contaminants like diesel.

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