This newly discovered strain of bacteria can eat plastic

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This Newly Discovered Strain of Bacteria Can Eat Plastic

There may be a new way to accelerate plastic decomposition, and it involves bacteria.

A new study from Japanese scientists says a new strain of bacteria found outside a recycling facility eats plastic.

It can take hundreds of years for plastic to naturally break down. And considering researchers believe there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by the year 2050, that's a problem.

The newly discovered bacteria eats a type of plastic found in many everyday products, such as water bottles. And for low-quality plastic, the strain could consume it in about six weeks.

There are still some issues that require further research on the topic, like how to adhere the bacteria to large amounts of plastic. Some also worry that possible toxins could be released from decomposition.

While the study focused on a new strain of bacteria, it isn't the first time scientists have discovered new ways to degrade plastics. In September, one study found certain types of plastic, like Styrofoam, could be the next meal for some larvae.

And researchers have been working for years to develop plastic that's degradable by water.

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This newly discovered strain of bacteria can eat plastic
Plastic bottles move along conveyor belts as they are sorted for recycling at the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, May 29, 2014. New York is trying to reduce the $350 million it spends each year dumping in distant landfills by converting organic waste into fuel and compost. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anaerobic digesters stand as waste water is treated at the Newtown Creek treatment facility in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, May 29, 2014. New York is trying to reduce the $350 million it spends each year dumping in distant landfills by converting organic waste into fuel and compost. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A worker drives a front end loader while moving materials for recycling at the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, May 29, 2014. New York is trying to reduce the $350 million it spends each year dumping in distant landfills by converting organic waste into fuel and compost. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A crane moves cubes of crushed steel cans for recycling at the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Thursday, May 29, 2014. New York is trying to reduce the $350 million it spends each year dumping in distant landfills by converting organic waste into fuel and compost. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Discarded computer monitors at the Safe Disposal program, organized by the government of New York, offers residence a drive-through drop off their unwanted electronics in the Brooklyn borough of New York, New York, United States.
A pile of discarded laptop computers at the Safe Disposal program, organized by the government of New York, offers residence a drive-through drop off their unwanted electronics in the Brooklyn borough of New York, New York, USA.
at the Discarded hazardous waste at the Safe Disposal program, organized by the government of New York, offers residence a drive-through drop off their unwanted electronics in the Brooklyn borough of New York, New York, USA
A foam cup, center, is discarded in a trash bin in New York Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has taken on smoking, sugary drinks and salt, talked about banning food packaging made from polystyrene foam from stores and restaurants in his annual State of the City address on Thursday. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A sanitation worker cleans up confetti and garbage after the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square January 1, 2012 in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks past a trash pile as fresh snow falls over Manhattan in New York on January 7, 2011. New Yorkers, still reeling from one of the biggest snow storms in the Big Apple's history, faced a fresh dump of the white stuff as officials vowed to be better prepared this time. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 22: New recycling trash bins line the street at an Earth Day event in Times Square on April 22, 2010 in New York City. Over a dozen vendors of recycling, conservation and energy efficient products educated consumers on some of the latest developments in earth friendly products. Earth Day turns 40 today and an estimated 1 billion people around the world will observe the anniversary with everything from tree planting events and local trash cleanups to a gathering of kite flyers. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 03: A tug boat pushes a garbage barge past the Statue of Liberty as seen from Governors Island in New York, U.S., on June 28, 2008. The island offers the closest point on land to face the (Photo by Paul Goguen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2007. Bloomberg outlined the sweeping package of proposals focused on the city's transportation, energy, water and housing networks that in some cases are already overextended beyond capacity by today's 8.2 million people. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York, event at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2007. Bloomberg outlined the sweeping package of proposals focused on the city's transportation, energy, water and housing networks that in some cases are already overextended beyond capacity by today's 8.2 million people. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
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