We've talked a fair bit about how plastics are causing pollution, measures being taken to reduce our dependency on them, as well as how they impact our lives (negative or positive) a handful of times in recent memory.
We've also discussed ways that could potentially help reduce material waste and put more reuse of materials into the forefront. We had previously noted that material was being broken down into its base components and converted to jet fuel. There has been talk about materials being broken down and modified into material for human consumption in the form of a vanilla flavoring.
Now we can focus on another means of breaking down materials, cows. Specifically, the rumen in their stomachs and how the microbes and enzymes can help break down different synthetic plastics in the beautiful hills of Vienna, Austria.
There are a number of specific enzymes, fungi, and microbes that break down the materials; I am not a biologist, however, so I won't pretend to know what some of the discussion means. From my understanding, tests have primarily been with rumen liquids specifically from alpine pasture-fed ox from the region in Austria.
This can hit home more and more as you realize that the rumen can break down common materials such as those used in plastic bags, bottles, textiles and food packaging. These include but are not limited to PET materials. Apparently, PET is similar to a plant polymer called cutin which is found in apples and berries.
In the end, the answer to our problems is apparently cows.