Wired has a story of a high school kid who has figured out which bacteria decomposes plastic bags. Since these bags eventually decompose, bacteria was involved — but exactly which bacteria was not really known. So, after an unusually simple method of deduction and testing, he found the two types of bacteria that eat away at plastic. What’s so great about that? Well, it takes a very long time for plastic bags to deompose, right. And because of the long-term pollution effects, cities like San Francisco have enacted a plastic bag ban to decrease the use of plastic in a major city. Plastic bag bans could be a moot point if this kid’s idea to makes the leap to the industrial scale.
Why? well, this kid has figured out how to dissolve a plastic bag in three months! That’s right three months. As far as waste by-products the bacteria produces, well, it’s some really bad stuff: water and a little bit of carbon dioxide.
Is there a big prize for solving environmental problems? If so, this kid ought to get it!