Plastics have become an ubiquitous feature of modern life, but their convenience comes with a price. Because of the length of time it takes for plastic to decompose, it now clogs up our landfills and oceans. Meanwhile, its production and use does not look to decrease any time soon.
In 2011, Canadian high school students Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao visited the Vancouver South Waster Transfer Station and observed major problems in sorting and eliminating discarded plastics. They were inspired to search for bacteria capable of breaking down plastics, which would in turn speed up the decomposition process and reduce the level of toxic phthalates in our environment. They presented their findings at a TEDx conference in Long Beach, California this February.