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This plastic-eating fungus could help clean up *tons* of non-biodegradable waste


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Photo: Stocksy/Blai Baules

The Earth has a plastic (not plastics) problem. The non-biodegradable material is ending up in some inconvenient places (the ocean, your order of halibut), and it’s also one of the many unhealthy and unsustainable factors contributing to global warming. However, Fast Company revealed that according to a recent discovery in Pakistan, part of the solution for dealing with the Earth’s billions of tons of plastic may reside in a plastic-eating fungus.

While investigating soil samples (AKA dirt), a team of researchers in Islamabad, Pakistan, found a strain of fungus (Aspergillus tubingensis) that eats plastic, or at least a certain type of plastic found in car materials and things like synthetic leather. And though it may sound too good to be true, this isn’t even the first time a discovery like this has been made. Wax worms and a certain bacteria were also recently found capable of eating polyethylene (plastic bags) plastic water bottles, respectively.

“We need to cut back on the amount of plastic waste we produce.”

Not to lull you into a false sense of security only to pull out the rug out from under you, but this is not an end-all cure-all. Experts caution it is merely damage control that’s meant to manage the spillover, not the problem itself. “We need to cut back on the amount of plastic waste we produce,” Christopher Howe, a study co-author said.

Basically, some of the damage we’ve inflicted on the planet may be reversible, but you might consider still thinking twice about the sustainability of your alt-milk choice.

Fungus could also be the key to getting rid of your bloat and the other reasons you should be putting it in your smoothies.