“Although we’re not the first ones to find bacteria that can break down phthalates, we were the first ones to look into our local river and find a possible solution to a local problem. We have not only shown that bacteria can be the solution to plastic pollution, but also that being open to uncertain outcomes and taking risks create opportunities for unexpected discoveries.”
– Jeanny Yao

“Einstein once said, ‘You can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking you used when you created them.’ If we’re making plastic synthetically, then we think the solution would be to break them down biochemically.”
– Miranda Wang

One thought on “Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao: Two young scientists break down plastics with bacteria

  1. Allan Griff says:

    You mean well but have fed the plastophobes by, first of all, following the popular view that demonizes all plastics, and then focusing on phthalate plasticizers which are additives, not even the plastics themselves, and a tiny percentage of our plastic wastes. (They wouldn’t even be a part of the gyre, because they don’t float.)
    Also, when you talk about beverage containers you are now referring to TEREphthalates that are indeed a part of the PET plastic commonly used for such containers, but have never been accused of the enviro-sins associated with the phthalate plasticizers.
    That’s only the beginning, but it doesn’t matter. The public wants things to disappear (biodegrade) unless they are glass or rocks, and they don’t know/care about the environmental impact of degradation.
    I don’t expect to change these public views. What I do want to explore are the reasons why the public is so primed to bash plastics. Is it a combination of fear of science (which is the counter to magic), fear of chemistry, fear of corporations, or a need to distract from the quantities of things we consume?

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