The humble mushroom might look like just another topping to a slice of pizza. But a new study from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, claims that a member of fungi kingdom is capable of dealing with the growing environmental problem of plastic waste.
A plastic-eating fungus ‘Aspergillus tubingensis’ was discovered by a team of Chinese scientists on a rubbish dump in Pakistan.
The mushroom has the ability to grow directly on the surface of plastics
Plastics normally take decades or even hundreds of years to naturally disintegrate, making them extremely harmful to the environment.
Fungi break down plastic waste within weeks rather than hundreds of years
Aspergillus tubingensis can break down plastics such as polyester polyurethane (PU) in just eight weeks.
This monumental discovery could just be the answer desperately needed to address the growing environmental problem of plastic waste.
Senior scientist Dr Ilia Leitch at Kew Gardens said: “This is incredibly exciting because it is such a big environmental challenge. If this can be the solution, that would be great.
“We are in the early days of research but I would hope to see the benefits of fungi that can eat plastic in five to ten years.”