Plastic waste is a huge problem that is plaguing our planet. The numbers of the plastic we produce, discard, and of the amounts that end up in landfills and oceans are gargantuan. What does this mean for us? Plastic waste clean takes upon a considerable amount of tax payers money and deducts from the tourist economy as sites become polluted with plastic. This type of material doesn't degrade until somewhere between 500 - 1000 years. As a result there is plenty of it stacking up for animals to accidentally eat and die from.
Solutions: There have been a few scientific approaches to attempt to degrade plastic but they have either not been efficient enough or not researched thoroughly enough. These methods entail chemically degrading with heat and pressure. Some of the processes are thermal depolymerization, pyrolysis, hydrolysis, and more. They involve converting the plastic waste into usable oils and gases. These methods hold some promise but a lot of them are expensive to start, involve highly intensive capital, and do not receive enough funding. Now this leaves us with the prospect of biologically degrading plastic using fungi and bacteria. Mycelium, mushrooms, and fungi are all apart of kingdom that has evolved over billions of years to secret enzymes that can digest materials thought to be non-digestable such as rocks, oil, and toxic metals (such as mercury). You can "train" almost any mushroom to secrete enzymes to digest just about any substance by introducing the substance to it repetitively. This method is low cost, there is an abundance of the plastic eating substance, and it can be grown anywhere.
Here is some scientific literature about the type of plastic-eating fungi:
Next Steps: There is no question that more trials, lab tests, and research needs to be conducted concerning the latent potential of mushrooms. More labs need to be free to the public so that mycologist (those who study mycology: study of mycellium - molds, fungi, mushrooms), amateurs and professionals a like can make paradigm changing discoveries.
The reason why I wrote this was to look for a lab space and people interested in a cause like this to being conducting research and applying it. Even if these approaches don't appeal to most people, the cause does and we must address it because it is having an unfavorable impact on our environment and will start affecting us directly sooner than we think. I invite any help or feedback that I can get. I am a college entrepreneur student native of New Jersey but will connect with anyone, anywhere.