SALT LAKE CITY — Indian scientists have identified new types of fungi that could potentially help break down polythene in landfills.
According to The Weather Channel, researchers from the Savitribai Phule Pune University collected samples of 109 fungi from 12 plastic waste dumping sites surrounded by marine water.
Lab tests indicated one strain of fungus, MANGF1/WL, caused a 50 percent loss in polythene weight while another strain, PNPF15/TS, caused a 94 percent reduction in the material’s strength.
"Polythene contributes around 64% of the total plastic waste and takes about 1000 years to degrade under natural environmental conditions," according to The Weather Channel. "Despite a ban, single-use polythene bags are still being used widely and are accumulating at dumping sites."5 comments on this story
It was also discovered the fungi are relatively safe for the environment — the two specific strains were less toxic to plants and marine life compared to other fungi.
However, scientists are still working to identify the exact enzyme the fungi use to break down polythene.
There’s no word on how long the fungi would need to break down large amounts of plastic.
According to the Telegraph, plastic products like straws and bottles can take over 400 years to degrade in a landfill, while fishing line can take almost 600. Even plastic bags can stick around for 20 years before breaking down.