Scientists believe they may have found an unlikely ally in the fight against plastic pollution — fungi.
A report published by London’s Kew Gardens claims to have found a fungus that can break down plastics “in weeks rather than years.”
Experts say the fungus, known as Aspergillus tubingensis, which was found in Pakistan, is capable of eroding plastics such as polyester polyurethane, which is often used in refrigerator insulation and synthetic leather.
“This is incredibly exciting because it is such a big environmental challenge. If this can be the solution, that would be great,” senior scientist Ilia Leitch told a news conference Tuesday.
“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 10 years.”
The report, which involved 100 scientists from across 18 countries, found that 2,189 new species of fungi were found during 2017, while an estimated 2.2 million to 3.8 million species are yet to be described.
There have been growing calls to eliminate single-use plastics across the business world, with ocean plastic waste predicted to triple by 2050.