10.3 C
Byron Shire
August 5, 2021

Stomach that: Liquid from cow stomachs digests plastic

Latest News

Youth arrested over Nimbin shooting

A 20-year-old has been charged over a shooting that took place in the middle of the day near the centre of Nimbin.

Other News

Israel vs Palestine

Jenny Bush, Wilsons Creek When the point scoring dies down there’s no question that since the British colonial occupiers of Palestine...

Sticking to facts

Roger Cotgreave, Byron Bay Thanks to The Echo for reporting scientific facts around the pandemic and not relying on social media...

Editorial – Let’s all acquiesce!

On July 12, it became mandatory for all businesses and workplaces in NSW to use the Service NSW Check-in tool (QR code).

NSW Parliament off for a month, with full pay

With COVID-19 cases surging across Sydney and defence forces being deployed in the city, NSW Parliament put out a brief statement last week saying MPs will not sit in the month of August ‘owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in NSW’.

Dog off-leash parks coming to Tweed

Tweed Shire Council is seeking feedback from the community on off-leash dog parks at Bray Park and Banora Point. ‘The...

To kill all Jews? No…

Subhi Awad, Mullumbimby With respect to Wakil and Macklin (Letters, 21 July) the assertion that the Palestinian resistance wants to kill...

Brought to you by The Echo and Cosmos Magazine


Polyesters can break down in rumen fluid. Photo Shutterstock

Bacteria from the stomach of a cow can digest some plastic, removing it from the environment, according to a team of Austrian researchers.

The polymers that plastics are made from usually aren’t digestible by ordinary organisms – be they animal, plant or bacteria – meaning the molecules accumulate in the environment very easily. While there has been some success in recent years finding microbes that can digest plastic polymers, the idea has so far been focussed on individual organisms, usually breaking down individual plastics.

This new research, published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, has found a combination of bacteria from cow stomachs to be more effective at digesting three different polyesters, including the common and long-lasting polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

The researchers, who are based at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, collected liquid from rumens (one of the four components of a cow’s stomach) from a slaughterhouse.

‘A huge microbial community lives in the rumen reticulum and is responsible for the digestion of food in the animals,’ says Doris Ribitsch, corresponding author on the study.

‘We suspected that some biological activities could also be used for polyester hydrolysis.’

Hydrolysis – using water to break down molecules – is an effective method of dealing with polymers, because it divides the long, difficult-to-digest molecules into smaller pieces. These molecules can then be easily processed further by the cow’s stomach liquid, or by other organisms in the environment, in the same way as their naturally-occurring counterparts in plants are.

The researchers incubated three different polyester plastics – PET, and two biodegradable plastics, PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate) and PEF (polyethylene furanoate) – in the rumen liquid. All three of these plastics are made exclusively from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms – meaning that once hydrolysed, they can ultimately become things like sugars, water, or carbon dioxide.

Published by The Echo in conjunction with Cosmos Magazine.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

4 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

NSW Parliament off for a month, with full pay

With COVID-19 cases surging across Sydney and defence forces being deployed in the city, NSW Parliament put out a brief statement last week saying MPs will not sit in the month of August ‘owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in NSW’.

Markets could return to Byron’s Butler St Reserve

Byron’s weekly farmers’ market may return to its traditional home in Butler Street Reserve after detailed soil testing found that the park was less contaminated than was feared.

Push to create transitional accommodation at Lot 22

Should the Council-owned plot of land in Mullumbimby, known as Lot 22, be used for temporary accommodation for those at risk of homelessness, as a matter of urgency?

Sticking to facts

Roger Cotgreave, Byron Bay Thanks to The Echo for reporting scientific facts around the pandemic and not relying on social media ‘research’. Also a big thanks...