Scientist Discovers Bacteria That Can Clean Up Plastic Pollution From Lakes

Study of 29 Scandinavian lakes reveals bacteria that feed on plastic compounds

An innovative way to remove plastic waste from freshwater lakes has been discovered by researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Naturally occurring lake bacteria that grow faster and more efficiently on leftover plastic bags have been discovered by scientists. These bacteria break down the plastic compounds present in the water and consume it for their growth.

Research has suggested that enriching water bodies with these could be a way to eliminate plastic pollution. The study was conducted on 29 lakes across Scandinavia. It showed that bacteria in lakes favor carbon compounds derived from plastic over natural compounds like wood or leaves.

Carbon compounds in plastics are easier to break down and use as food. Thus, if a lake has a lot of plastic but low bacterial diversity, its ecosystem will be more vulnerable.

The presence of plastic litter and microplastics in water bodies is common around the world. These scientific and innovative methods could constitute an alternative to clean lakes, rivers and oceans.

Bryce K. Locke