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A new method has been developed in the UK to turn PET into vanillin using E. coli bacteria

Jun 22, 2021

According to ZME Science, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed an experimental method to convert treated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into vanillin, the main ingredient from vanilla beans that gives vanilla its distinctive taste and aroma.

To convert PET into vanillin, researchers developed a strain of E. coli bacteria that "eats" the terephthalic acid from PET and converts it into vanillin through a series of chemical reactions.

In one experiment, researchers successfully used E. coli bacteria to turn used plastic bottles into vanillin. The researchers will conduct further experiments to find out if the plastic-made vanillin is safe to eat.

Lead author Joanna Sadler, from the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, said: "This is the first time an ecosystem has been used to recover plastic waste and turn it into a high-value industrial chemical, which has great implications for creating a circular economy. "Our results have significant implications for plastics sustainability and demonstrate the potential of synthetic biology to address today's problems."

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