Bottle-eating bugs

Researchers at Phoenix, Arizona-based Enso Bottles have developed a biodegradable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle.


Researchers at Phoenix, Arizona-based Enso Bottles have developed a biodegradable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle that could put an end to plastic bottle pollution.


In 2007, there were said to be more than 4bn pounds of PET plastic bottles that were either burned or ended up in landfills, roadsides, streams and oceans. The Enso researchers claim to have found a solution to that problem.


But Danny Clark, founder of the company is keen to point out that the company’s new bottles are not composed of earlier oxo-biodegradable or polylactic acid (PLA) materials.


As such, he said, they will biodegrade in both anaerobic and aerobic compostable environments, unlike oxo-degradable and PLA products that require oxygen, heat and moisture to begin breaking down.


The bottles start to biodegrade when they are placed in a microbial environment, during which a patent-pending process opens the PET polymer chain and attracts specific microbes that digest the entire bottle, thus leaving behind inert humus, CO2 and biogas.


The company claims that the bottles will completely break down within one to five years and second generation bottles will cut that time by more than half.