A team of Japanese scientists has found a species of bacteria that eats the type of plastic found in most disposable water bottles.
The discovery, published Thursday in the journal Science, could lead to new methods to manage the more than 50 million tons of this particular type of plastic produced globally each year.
The plastic found in water bottles is known as polyethylene terephalate, or PET. It is also found in polyester clothing, frozen-dinner trays and blister packaging.
"If you walk down the aisle in Walmart you're seeing a lot of PET," said Tracy Mincer, who studies plastics in the ocean at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.