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A bottle of algae is an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic

18 April 2016, 09:00

We are all used to plastic and do not even think about the harm that this unique material does to the environment, for example, ordinary plastic bottles decompose in nature for more than 150 years. Given that most of the bottles for water immediately after use fall into garbage, where they cause huge damage to the environment, we can talk about the serious threat hanging over our planet. In Iceland, designer Ari Jonson found a non-standard solution to this problem - the production of eco-friendly bottles, for example, from algae.

The author of the idea himself noted that for a long time he felt the need to replace at least some of the plastic that surrounds us, which is produced, used in everyday life and is thrown out daily by millions of people. Ari wondered why people use materials that poison the ground for years, and realized that it's time to act.

The solution to the problem should be agar - a powder from algae. To create the bottle, Johnson made a mixture of agar powder and water, then heated it and poured it into a special mold with ice water, after which he got a bottle completely usable for use, but still having some differences from the usual plastic one.

First of all, a bottle of algae keeps its shape only in a filled form, after the devastation it gradually breaks down - according to Johnson this is a natural and safe replacement for plastic, which can be thought up for today. It is also worth noting that agar is often used as a thickener for desserts in vegetarian or vegan cuisine, so a bottle of algae is edible, but has a rather specific taste.

Every year in the world hundreds of millions of plastic are produced, which is used mainly as a packing material. For processing there is only a small part of all plastic, the rest for years, poisons the land in landfills or falls into the ocean, which also does not benefit the environment.

In Japan, the specialists proposed the solution of the problem of plastic waste quite opposite to the designer from Iceland. The Japanese will be able to identify a new bacterium that can split the plastic in a short time.

Bacteria were found in various sediments (mud, soil, etc.) - studies have shown that these microorganisms feed on plastics that are used as a source of carbon and energy, after the bacteria are placed in a container with plastic particles, material destruction occurred within a few weeks.  

According to scientists, during the evolution of microorganisms, several enzymes appeared, the need for this arose due to severe conditions, as bacteria had to survive in an environment that was overcrowded with PET. Thanks to these enzymes, bacteria can decompose the plastic to the main environmentally friendly components (ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid).

In the course of further work, scientists identified a gene that helps to produce new enzymes from microorganisms, and they were able to grow them in a laboratory. Experiments have shown that laboratory bacteria also destroy plastic and offered to use them for a more efficient method of recycling plastic waste. But when the method is widely used, it remains to be seen.

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