The fungus may be the solution to the world’s huge plastic problem.
Mushrooms are commonly known as fungi. They can be seen microscopically as single-celled yeast which cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Discovered on a rubbish dump in Pakistan, this fungus could be the break-through we looking for. It can break down plastics in a matter of weeks instead of years, which could solve the plastic problem earth is currently facing.
Fungus whether it’s a healer or a destroyer, are vital to life on Earth. In our ground-breaking report, Kew has brought fungi out of the shadows. It is just one of several recent discoveries highlighted in a new report by Kew Gardens on the importance of fungi.
Fungi can also feed on pollutants such as oil spills, toxic chemicals like sarin nerve gas and TNT, and even radioactive waste. Penicillin as well as other ranges of other life-saving drugs are all derived from fungal interactions. Washing powders use fungi to break down stains and bring dull-looking clothes back to life.
Facts and figures taken from sas.org will show you that plastic is one of the largest environmental problems earth is currently facing.
1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people had produced over 320 million tons of plastic. Which is set to double by 2034.
Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans. That would mean there are around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the oceans weighing up to approximately 269,000 tonnes.
Previously a giant structure was sent into the Pacific Ocean to try and clean up some of the plastic waste that had been dumped. Even if it is collected, there is still no way of getting rid of it besides making use of conventional rubbish dumps. It takes approximately a decade to 1000 years for plastics to degrade properly, now you can see how important it is to give it your attention before it is too late.
Cue Aspergillus tubingensis, a fungus that has been shown in a recent study to break down chemical bonds in plastic. In lab experiments, researchers found this unique fungus has the ability to feed off of plastic. The experiments were published by Environmental Pollution, via ScienceDirect. They found that when the fungus is introduced to polyester polyurethane plastic, the mycelium caused degradation and scarring.
The first-ever State of the World’s Fungi report highlights the important role they can play in helping clean up the environment.