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BS: A plastic-eating fungus!

Senoufou 13 Sep 18 - 08:39 AM
Jos 13 Sep 18 - 09:17 AM
David Carter (UK) 13 Sep 18 - 09:37 AM
David Carter (UK) 13 Sep 18 - 09:42 AM
Senoufou 13 Sep 18 - 09:44 AM
Senoufou 13 Sep 18 - 09:50 AM
Sandra in Sydney 13 Sep 18 - 09:54 AM
Senoufou 13 Sep 18 - 12:22 PM
Senoufou 14 Sep 18 - 04:32 AM
Will Fly 14 Sep 18 - 04:54 AM
Senoufou 14 Sep 18 - 05:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Sep 18 - 06:55 AM
Senoufou 14 Sep 18 - 08:34 AM
Mr Red 15 Sep 18 - 04:38 AM

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Subject: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 08:39 AM

I see that Dr Ilia Leitch, an expert at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have discovered something extremely important in a rubbish tip in Islamabad Pakistan.
It's a fungus which produces an enzyme that breaks down plastic in a few weeks, in effect 'digesting' it.

Obviously they need to do lots of tests on the fungus before making use of it in marine environments, but still, it gives one hope that the disgusting mountain of plastic polluting our oceans might be dealt with.

Unpacking our groceries from the supermarket this morning, the amount of, in my view, unnecessary plastic was ridiculous. We have a recycling wheelie bin, but one wonders where it ends up.

I expect the more scientific folk here on Mudcat might be able to add their knowledge of this fungus.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Jos
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:17 AM

Sounds like good news as long as they can keep it confined to the rubbish and it doesn't start digesting stuff we rely on, such as substances protecting underground or underwater cables, or in medical equipment.
There are different kinds of plastic and it might possibly mutate and adapt to the different kinds.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:37 AM

We have heard this before. Replace fungus with bacterium, and it is the plot of the first episode of Doomwatch.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: David Carter (UK)
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:42 AM

Apologies, it was a virus!


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:44 AM

I quite see that they'd have to be very careful in case essential plastics were compromised. Also, releasing a new species into the wild can be fraught with irreversible repercussions.

I don't think I ever saw 'Doomwatch' David. I just looked it up, and it seems the bacterium caused deformities and strange personality changes in humans.
The oceans are such a precious part of our planet that anything within could affect us in several ways. And once introduced, it would be nigh on impossible to remove.

Sigh. We really have ruined the blooming Earth haven't we?


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:50 AM

Ha! Virus!
Speaking of viruses, as a thread drift (of which I am one of the Chief Offenders) I see there's a new disease called Monkeypox, a virus which originated in Nigeria.
It resembles smallpox, but isn't quite so dangerous. Two cases have now come to light in UK.

I also see that my typo in the opening post says '...the doctor have...' This is because I've absorbed too much of the Norfolk dialect. Here we say, "She hev..." instead of "She has..."


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 09:54 AM

plastic eating fungus vs plastic living forever


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 13 Sep 18 - 12:22 PM

Hahaha Sandra! That would guarantee immortality, but floating around in the sea isn't exactly a scintillating existence!

I wonder how large a lump of plastic this fungus can attack successfully? A rubbish tip surely doesn't hold massive plastic tanks etc., just ordinary domestic detritus.
From what I've seen on photos of the Pacific for example, there's no limit to the huge lumps of this and that bobbing around, stuff chucked off ships, industrial waste and so on.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 14 Sep 18 - 04:32 AM

There's a village not far from us (Lenwade) with an industrial site, where three or four factories used to be. One was a massive plastics place. They're closed now and rather derelict.

Yesterday we drove past, and in the huge yard was an absolute mountain of what looked like old plastic window frames. This mountain was about the size of four or five double-decker buses.

The frames were busted and discoloured, and obviously of no use to industry or manufacture.

Now how would they be disposed of?
Whatever method is decided upon, it will surely be nothing more than pollution on quite a large scale.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Sep 18 - 04:54 AM

Packaging has gone to ludicrous lengths these days. Quite often, if you buy something quite ordinary or utilitarian, a pair of scissors, for example, it comes wrapped in ultra thick plastic which has been shaped to fit the objects outline and is almost impossible to get at without... a pair of scissors. The same goes for some food packaging, though we try and avoid food like that when shopping. Some bottles and jars are sealed so hermetically - for good reasons I know - that they're almost impossible to open sometimes.

God knows how people with a poor grip cope when trying to unpackage these things.

Some years ago, our village was one of the first in the UK to go plastic-bag free, after a campaign involving local shop owners. Alas, as shops have changed hands over the years, they (the bags) have made an unwelcome return and we have to start all over again...


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 14 Sep 18 - 05:52 AM

You're right Will. Flipping plastic around everything one buys. I've heard that some people take it all off after the checkout and leave it dumped on the side for the supermarket to deal with, to make their point about how unnecessary it is.

Only yesterday I had to get my husband to help me open a giant sized toilet roll pack. The plastic covering was so tightly wrapped I couldn't get into it! And I'm not particularly arthritic or feeble.

I realise one needs to protect food from contamination, but objects such as scissors, which you mentioned, or cleaning cloths, batteries etc don't need hygienic protection, unless from thieves I suppose.

Hard to imagine the fifties, when everything was bought loose and popped into one's shopping bag. Spuds, carrots, sprouts, bread, loose nails/screws, butter (in greaseproof paper) meat (wrapped in white paper) sugar (in a twist of blue paper) nothing had plastic around it.


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Sep 18 - 06:55 AM

I work for Morrisons and am quite proud of the way they have taken up removing plastic from their shelves. They are trying to have no fruit or veg in plastic and you can now take your own containers for all fresh products including meat and fish. may not make much odds just yet but large oak from small acorns grow!


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Senoufou
Date: 14 Sep 18 - 08:34 AM

We drifting more and more towards Morrisons Dave. Their stuff seems nice and fresh and good quality, and their prices, although a bit dearer than Asda (a store we detest anyway) are rather cheaper than Tesco.

The difficulty is we're between Fakenham and Norwich Riverside (the only two Morrisons we know of) and both are miles and miles away.
Serves us right for choosing to live in a small fairly remote village!


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Subject: RE: BS: A plastic-eating fungus!
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 Sep 18 - 04:38 AM

Morrisons - ha!

I went for "Malted Milk" biscuits and saw "Nice" (notso nice IMNSHO) in clear plastic packs. So eschewing (does one chew biscuits?) "Nice" I lighted on the Malted Milk shelf, again in plastic see-through. Alas, oh alack. When I got home I discovered the shelf-stacker had made the same assumption as me. They do look similar. Now I have to return 8 miles to swap-out the correct item. But praise be to the organisation - they invited me back and would put points on my non-existent "More" card.

And just to bring it back to packaging - I save all my biscuit wrappers and take them to our SVP shop - a local green project thingy.

And just to bring it back to the OP - they did find a bacterium that eats PET (I think) in a rubbish dump in Japan and scientists at a UK Uni are trying to evolve the bug and have improved its digestion a bit, but it is early days.


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