No doubt that discarded plastic is a huge problem (see 1, 2, 3). The good news is that there are people trying to reduce this problem. This includes a girl who makes clothes from recycled plastic and donates part of the proceeds to animal conservation.
Unfortunately, there are also people offering solutions that could create bigger problems. For example, there are researchers who want to turn plastic into jet fuel and critics aren’t enthusiastic about this at all. There are also researchers who want to turn plastic waste into vanilla flavoring. But how many people would knowingly eat anything flavored with recycled plastic waste even if it’s deemed safe by regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? After all, the FDA has a long history of NOT protecting the public in a timely manner (see 1, 2, 3, 4).
Here’s the Tastiest Suggestion Yet on Plastic Waste
Researchers convert it into vanilla flavoring
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2021 12:21 PM CDT
(Newser) – Plastic waste is a problem. A big, big problem. Seemingly unrelated fact: Lots of people love vanilla. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have managed to combine these two ideas to come up with one of the most novel suggestions yet for reducing plastic garbage. They figured out a way to convert old plastic into vanilla flavoring that can be eaten, reports the Guardian. Researchers unleashed lab-engineered E. coli to transform terephthalic acid into vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its distinctive taste and smell, per ZME Science. That acid, or TA, is a molecule derived from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the polymer commonly used to make plastic bottles, bags, and other products. The researchers got there through a series of chemical reactions spelled out in the journal Green Chemistry.
Read more: Researchers Want to Convert Plastic Waste into Vanilla Flavoring