New Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastics May Boost Plastic Credits

Scientists made a new enzyme to break down plastics very fast, which can boost plastic credits.

Plastic credits are eyed as the next big thing to deal with sustainability, next to carbon credits.

Plastic is one of the major pollutions damaging the environment, especially the oceans. About 80% of all debris polluting the seas is plastic waste.

Companies have been working to find solutions to deal with the plastic crisis.

Luckily, scientists recently created an enzyme that breaks down plastic waste very fast. This new enzyme reduces the time it takes to decompose plastics to hours, not decades.

The New Discovery That Can Boost Plastic Credits

A team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin discovered the new enzyme. They called it the FAST-PETase – functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase.

PET refers to polymer polyethylene terephthalate, one kind of plastic material.

FAST-PETase involved the study of 51 different plastic containers, 5 polyester fibers, and water bottles made from PET.

The team used a natural PETase that is capable of degrading PET plastic while modifying it using machine learning.

Their technology discovers mutations that degrade the plastic faster under different environmental conditions. It can break down PET within a week or as fast as 24 hours, which took decades to centuries to happen before.

More interesting is that the scientists also showed that decomposed plastic can become a new plastic product.

The team said that they can use the new enzyme to clean up areas polluted by plastics. Also, their technology can work in environments with ambient temperatures.

There are endless possibilities for various industries to leverage this novel plastic solution. According to one of the chemical engineers,

“Beyond the obvious waste management industry, this provides corporations from every sector the opportunity to take a lead in recycling their products.”

Currently, the most common way to dispose of plastics is to throw them in landfills where they rot at a very slow rate. Others are even burning them which further pollutes the air.

Thus, there’s a need for alternative strategies to resolve plastic pollution. And the discovery of FAST-PETase can be a solution that’s cheap, portable, and not too difficult to scale up.

Better yet, it’s a great aid to the emerging rise of plastic offset or credit schemes.

How Do Plastic Credits Work

The plastic credit industry works like how the carbon credit industry does.

In the carbon credit market, entities buy carbon credits. Each credit equals one metric ton of carbon, which is then “offset” through carbon projects. These often involve renewable energy and nature-based projects.

The carbon credit market has been growing rapidly over the last few years. Verification of carbon credit projects becomes stricter to ensure the quality of carbon credits.

Both countries and companies are thriving to reduce their carbon emissions as part of their climate goals in line with the Paris Accord. And so, the carbon credit industry is booming as the world races to net zero by 2050.

Essentially, the plastic credit industry works the same way. The only difference is that companies claim credits for projects that tackle plastics.

Each plastic credit is equal to one ton of plastic waste that would otherwise have not been collected or recycled.

Plastic credits also have to meet certain quality assurance criteria or principles. Confirmation of quality is done via the project’s validation and verification process.

And like carbon credits, companies also have to retire plastic credits to offset their plastic waste footprint.

Verra has seen initial estimates for plastic credit prices ranging from $200 – $800 per tonne.

How to Use Plastic Credits

Plastic credits can help enhance technologies and systems that collect and recycle plastics. It’s very much the same as how carbon credits can help reduce carbon emissions.

Companies can use plastic credits to address the plastic wastes that they can’t get rid of yet. And like establishing a robust carbon footprint, a company needs to assess its plastic footprint to engage well in plastic offsets.

Here are some activities companies can do to mitigate their plastic footprint:

From Verra Registry

Plastic credits are issued to registry account holders listed on the Verra Registry. Under its Plastic Program, the issuance of plastic credits involves two parts.

One is the Waste Collection Credits (WCCs) for projects involving plastic collections. The other one is the Waste Recycling Credits (WRCs) for plastic recycling projects.

The discovery of the new plastic decomposing enzyme opens a new door for those who want to offset their plastic footprint.

Companies can leverage plastic credits with this enzyme along with carbon credits to address sustainability concerns.

Many firms even consider plastic waste reduction as part of their GHG emissions reduction strategy. It’s one viable way to deal with net zero commitments.

The post New Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastics May Boost Plastic Credits appeared first on Carbon Credits.

The Bahamas Intends to be the First Country to Sell Blue Carbon Credits

The Bahamas plans to sell blue carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market by the end of this year.

The island nation is counting its carbon-sink assets like mangroves and hopes to sell blue carbon credits out of them.

The inventory of its ocean-based assets is still ongoing. But the Prime Minister said they can produce at least $300 million worth of blue carbon credits.

The Role of Ocean-based Carbon Sink in Cutting Emissions

Coastal ecosystems like mangroves and seagrass meadows can store big amounts of CO2. In fact, mangroves store 10x more carbon than terrestrial forests. Mangrove forests usually grow in sea bays.

Also, as mangroves capture and store CO2 below water, it’s sequestered there for over 10x longer than tropical forests do. As such, they have a crucial role in fighting climate change.

The image below shows how a typical blue carbon sink sequesters CO2.

There are other positive effects of coastal forests on climate change and the economy. They help reduce coastal wave energy and the impact of harsh coastal storms and events.

Plus, blue carbon systems also filter pollution and trap sediments that support coastal habitats.

The Bahamas Timely Move with Blue Carbon Credits

Market analysis also shows that global demand for carbon credits is surging as companies are in a race to offset their emissions. Countries are also striving hard to meet their emissions reduction targets.

Countries and businesses alike are setting goals to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. For the same year, the BloombergNEF, clean energy research team, expects the market for carbon credits to reach as high as above $500 billion.

The carbon market has seen money pouring in on green carbon credits projects, involving forests and grasslands. So if The Bahamas begins selling blue carbon credits, it will be among the first nations to focus on this space.

And the Bahamas PM thinks that it’s time for the country to get paid for the services of its coastal carbon sinks. Philip Davis said that,

“I want to see the Caribbean that is not dumped on any further… We are a major carbon sink for the world, and we need to benefit from cleaning the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The Caribbean contributes very little to global emissions. But the region is among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.

Hurricanes and other ecosystem damages experienced by the country that cost it $10 billion in national debt are due to the climate crisis.

The Bahamas hopes that other Caribbean nations will join them in this initiative. They’ll be having a regional meeting in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the country had recently introduced its landmark legislation to regulate carbon credits. This policy will aid the Bahamas in promoting blue carbon credits and removing CO2 from the air. It will also help boost its coastal conservation and restoration efforts.

Other Plans to Tackle Climate Change

The Bahamas plans to invest the money from selling blue carbon credits in renewable energy and other green projects.

The island nation promised to generate at least 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

It also seeks to transition its public sector to a fleet of electric cars and retrofit buildings with renewable energy elements. In particular, the government focuses on solar energy projects in various areas.

It partnered with the EU and the Inter-American Development Bank for solar generation and storage. The solar infrastructures will be in places damaged by hurricanes.

There are also plans to use reverse metering to credit people who produce more electricity than they use.

As for its plan to sell blue carbon credits, the Bahamas expects to earn much to fund its transition to renewable energy and be climate-resilient.

As such, carbon markets serve as a bridge to a renewable energy future for nations like the Bahamas.

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