This Newly Developed Plastic Can ‘Eat’ Itself After A Couple of Days In Warm Water

Scientists have developed a new plastic that could finally solve our ever-growing plastics problem.

Video Transcript


- Plastic. Humanity is producing more and more of it every day. But the problem is, once it's made, it tends to stick around. But now scientists from UC Berkeley have developed a new form of plastic that actually consumes itself. This is the plastic when it's produced. And this is what it looks like just three days later after it has been treated. The new plastic is manufactured with an enzyme that reacts when exposed to water and heat, causing it to begin breaking itself down.

One of the researchers on the project Dr. Ting Xu, was looking for a method to penetrate the near-crystalline structure of most plastics with enzymes that would consume them, realizing that embedding those plastic-eating nanoscopic particles within the plastic and setting parameters for release, in this case water and heat, was a way around the difficult process of breaking through that crystalline barrier.

But if you were worried about plastic-based clothes like polyesters melting off you while exercising, don't. The material can withstand short exposures to heat and slight dampness. But you can still compost this neoplastic in your own home, with Dr. Xu saying, quote, "Just warm water up to the right temperature, then put the new plastic in, and we see in a few days it disappears."