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Science Fair project FOR THE WIN! According to a piece on Wired Science, a 16-year-old high school student, Daniel Burd, from Waterloo, Ontario, has figured out a way to quickly decompose plastic (like that used in shopping bags) by letting bacteria eat it. He presented his findings at the high school science fair.

The Record reports that Burd mixed landfill dirt with yeast and tap water, then added ground plastic and let it stew. The plastic indeed decomposed more quickly than it would in nature; after experimenting with different temperatures and configurations, Burd isolated the microbial munchers. One came from the bacterial genus Pseudomonas, and the other from the genus Sphingomonas.

I like how the piece ends:

Amazing stuff. I’ll try to get an interview with this young man who may have managed to solve one of the most intractable environmental dilemmas of our time. And I can’t help but wonder whether his high school already had its prom. If he doesn’t get to be king, there’s no justice in this world.


Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months