The Philippines has a plastic problem. Apart from being named one of the top five countries that contribute to half of the world's plastic pollution, a 2015 study reveals we waste over 6,237,653 kilograms of plastic each day.
So the discovery of bacteria that can overcome the resistance of plastic degradation can be revolutionizing.
Just last year, strains of bacteria discovered in Poon Bato Spring, Zambales were found to be capable of "eating" or biodegrading plastic, according to researchers from the biology department of the University of the Philippines-Baguio.
Out of the original nine strains taken from the spring, four strains of bacteria were seen to be capable of biodegrading low-density polythylene (LDPE), commonly used in plastic bags, cling wrap, shampoo bottles and other containers.
According to a study published in the Philippine Science Letter, LDPE is "a commonly-used packaging material that is resistant to degradation under natural conditions" and "contributes to environmental pollution".
Through enrichment culture procedures, the bacterial strains were able to use the LDPE as their sole carbon source, reducing the weight of plastic between 5.1% to 9.9% just after 90 days of incubation.
Headed by researchers Denisse Yans dela Torre, Lee delos Santos, Mari Louise Reyes and Ronan Baculi, the study inferred that the natural alkaline spring Poon Bato Spring that contains calcium, magnesium, sulfate, chloride and iron provided the alkaline pH that supports the growth of this bacteria.
The study said, "The results showed that selected microorganisms exhibited great potential for LDPE biodegradation, a discovery which can be used in reducing solid waste currently accumulating in natural environments." — LA, GMA News