A fungus that normally eats wood can also chew up some of the long-lasting plastic resins that clog landfill sites, researchers in the United States have found. This potentially offers an environmentally friendly way to recycle the waste.
Adam Gusse and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse wondered whether white-rot fungi might be able to attack the resins. These fungi are commonly seen on rotting tree stumps and manufacture an array of enzymes able to break down the tough lignin in wood. Lignin has a similar chemical structure to phenolic resins, because it is also made up of ring-like molecules strung together.