There has been a growing movement in the UK recently to ban or at least to tax plastic bags. But what about those that are already out there, taking up space in landfill or floating about in the Pacific Ocean?
A Canadian high school student may have worked out a solution. For his entry in a science fair (which he won, needless to say), Daniel Burd successfully identified the strain of bacteria that breaks down plastic bags. A polythene bag will degrade over 1000 years ‘in the wild’, but Burd reckons it could take as little as three months, under the right conditions of warmth, moisture, and bacterial fermentation. We may be some way from an industrial scale plastic-bag processing plant, but this breakthrough does make it possible.