These bacteria eat plastic | Morgan Vague

  • Published on Jun 24, 2019
  • Humans produce 300 million tons of new plastic each year -- yet, despite our best efforts, less than 10 percent of it ends up being recycled. Is there a better way to deal with all this waste? Morgan Vague describes her research with microbiologist Jay Mellies on bacteria that have evolved the unexpected ability to eat plastic -- and how they could help us solve our growing pollution problem.
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  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 516

  • Venomous
    Venomous 2 days ago +1

    People With Plastic Surgery: Exist
    Bacteria That Eats Plastic: Im about to end this PLASTICS whoel career

  • Dakuta12
    Dakuta12 10 days ago +2

    would have loved to hear her explain how breaking fixated carbon into CO2 will help the environment... they have a patent on the technology, are they going to use this technology to create more greenhouse gases? hopefully not, right?

  • A Mark
    A Mark 11 days ago

    Ok I thought it was just me😀

  • JR T
    JR T 23 days ago

    "My bacteria"
    She looks like a cultist?

  • JR T
    JR T 23 days ago

    Bacteria? Where is she getting culturing biohazard waste ?
    Sounds like bio hazardous weapons?

  • JR T
    JR T 23 days ago

    Tax funded grants are throwing money at her non action plan

  • JR T
    JR T 23 days ago

    What is with the hand gestures?
    Lecture the countries that throw the plastic in the ocean. Primarly Asia and Africa

  • April Adare
    April Adare Month ago

    Anyone notice how flat her eyes are. No sparkle which is odd to me.

  • Russell Sova
    Russell Sova Month ago

    In the 1960's, '70's and '80's the same environmentalists that are complaining about plastic were saying plastic bags were the answer. It meant we could "save the trees". Most places went from paper bags to plastic bags. Everyone complained. Now we're told that some evil companies are to blame. Way to go environmentalists! We went from sustainable forest management that resulted in biodegradable paper bags to a "plastic polluted environment". The same environmentalists complaining about the need for plastic bags started complaining about the water coming from municipal water treatment plants where water is chlorinated to kill bacteria. As a result, we now have bottled water, some of which is just municipal water from someplace else.

  • As It is
    As It is Month ago

    Al the dislikes are from my bacteria

  • Akame ga kill
    Akame ga kill Month ago

    لست مهتم

  • Mary Ann Escorrido
    Mary Ann Escorrido Month ago

    Researchers discovered a bacteria who eats plastic in Phillipines.

  • Groove Street
    Groove Street Month ago


  • Michael Pilgrim
    Michael Pilgrim Month ago

    I can’t watch this anymore, she’s nauseating. So patronising and vague. And what’s with the long pauses? Is that because you think we’re too stupid to understand what you’re saying.

  • Michael Pilgrim
    Michael Pilgrim Month ago

    She’s pretty patronising

  • Michael Harned
    Michael Harned Month ago

    Mutant 59 the plastic eaters is a science fiction story about bacteria that could eat plastic

  • Adolfo Poma
    Adolfo Poma Month ago

    There is only published research article from 2016 which degrates PET plastic with a very low crystalline content (~ 2%) film. The bacteria is called Ideonella Sakaiensis and the enzyme is called PETase. At this moment is the only standard system but it fails to degrade real plastic with about 50% crystalline conteny.

  • Lily G
    Lily G Month ago

    Have you heard about Cynthia bacteria flesh eating man made bacteria that's spreading rapidly.

  • Alpha
    Alpha Month ago +3

    Lady: mY BaCTerIA

  • Garrett Bushman
    Garrett Bushman 2 months ago

    I love this. Thank you so much ma’am!

  • StofStuiver
    StofStuiver 2 months ago

    We already had a pilot setup in 85 here in a US multinational petrochem giant, with bacteria eating phenol.
    Irritating how she keeps saying 'my bacteria'. They arent yours. And the idea isnt yours.
    The problem isnt so much the finding or creating bacteria that can metabolise this sort of waste. The problem is getting all the waste to such a facility.
    She makes it seem simple; a collection device on every corner of the streets, where ppl dump their plastic. But then we run into another problem; these bacteria need good care; are not supposed to be overfed and not supposed to be underfed. They require specific temperature, pressure, acidity, etc etc. So thats going to be a full time job for a proces technologist in every street > not viable.
    You can tackle that of course, with collecting all this waste and deliver it to a local/regional facility. And then you run into the first problem again; getting the waste there, sorting it, etc.
    If we did collect all plastic, sort it, we could then re-use it, which would be preferable to destroying it. And that is why these bacteria eaters do not exist...
    Now, with enough pressure we may get there, bc plastics in the environment are an increasing problem, but since 1985, this pressure wasnt high enough, obviously.
    She should have expanded on all this, instead of focussing on her self importance.

  • A N
    A N 2 months ago

    Lol, no wonder her last name is Vague

  • Debi Herbert
    Debi Herbert 2 months ago

    I saw a documentary on TV years ago where bateria was being use to break down plastic

  • Johan Smit
    Johan Smit 2 months ago

    There should be a surcharge on plastic manufacturers to help scientists with this research.

  • Matthew Drew
    Matthew Drew 2 months ago

    And if the bacteria expel carbon dioxide isn't it better to leave it in the relatively inert plastic state that takes thousands to millions of years to break down?

  • RonThePhotoGuy
    RonThePhotoGuy 2 months ago

    It's (C₁₀H₈O₄)n, it can be used as a fuel, or it can be turned into other plastic items. Destroying it with bacteria only makes sense if it is cost prohibitive to collect it and clean it enough to use it as fuel or raw material.

  • Wall St Tech
    Wall St Tech 2 months ago

    PET is for goats.

  • Soultaker93
    Soultaker93 2 months ago

    One way or another, Earth will find a way to deal with anything we throw at it. If nothing else helps, it can easily reset itself all over again, but we will suffer from our own trash, no doubt about that. You reep what you sow.

  • B Welkinator
    B Welkinator 2 months ago

    At long last.... a TED talk with very low social construct.

  • sahar gulzar
    sahar gulzar 2 months ago

    There were similar news stories in Pakistan last year however speaker has not made any mention of any other research being done in this field...

  • * Juke Joint
    * Juke Joint 2 months ago

    We want to try and control climate change why don’t outlaw plastic products which are a more immediate problem.

  • laura cukaj
    laura cukaj 2 months ago

    hello ted, can u provide us the research of Vague ?

  • Karen Ironside
    Karen Ironside 2 months ago +1

  • Karen Ironside
    Karen Ironside 2 months ago +1

    why not turn it back into fuel? There are some guys doing this..not sure what the "side effects" are ..but it is a beginning...

  • James Gerboc
    James Gerboc 2 months ago

    Awesome work that offers hope. Although not a "cure-all" it certainly would help. Everyone knows plastic is causing harm. Why aren't we also recycling plastic? Why aren't we developing a substitute for plastic? We continue to sell water in 48-bottle cases at the grocery for under $5. If it cost a modest $10 and we applied the other $5 to answering these questions, maybe we could be more socially responsible.

  • Rick Borghuis
    Rick Borghuis 2 months ago

    The dislikes are from the plastic eaten by the bacteria

  • Leanne Smith
    Leanne Smith 2 months ago


  • donutmaster
    donutmaster 2 months ago

    "that's fancy science talk for" she says like we're all sneering retards who switch off when we hear words longer than 7 letters. We wouldn't be watching TED if we were like that lady get a grip.

  • ivann kirsten
    ivann kirsten 2 months ago how would plastic end up in your child's brain? Easy, just introduce it into the food chain.

    • James Humphrey
      James Humphrey 2 months ago

      brains are 70% water and the rest fish ! or omega fatty acids - i'll back to you on that

  • Lou Gehrig
    Lou Gehrig 2 months ago

    snake oil. who does she work for? who is her sponsors and/or how does she get funded? if the bacteria has the capability to eat plastic, it would easily eat humans. can you say..............."BACTERIA WARFARE'. be careful what you wish for. less plastic more glassware.

  • Luis Cuevas
    Luis Cuevas 2 months ago

    That is brilliant

  • ana ML
    ana ML 2 months ago

    "We humans" lol

    • James Humphrey
      James Humphrey 2 months ago

      yes humans are quite a jokes are they not and a useless joke at best in the ecosystem killing themselves with plastic in the environment - insane

  • beautifulsmall
    beautifulsmall 2 months ago

    shell forming genes into algae.

  • Daniel
    Daniel 2 months ago +1

    Its a good topic to talk about just not explained well enough.

    • James Humphrey
      James Humphrey 2 months ago

      got another 2 hours then eh ! or maybe could enroll in a university to get a biology degreee

  • Claire
    Claire 2 months ago

    The abstract from her paper with more details - might be able to find on Google scholar if search the title.
    I think she talks 'vaguely' as its early stages.

  • William Martínez Cortés

    There are already industrial solutions to convert plastics into gasoline

  • flukeseawalker
    flukeseawalker 2 months ago

    I think I'd rather recycle.

  • Thương Thương Hà
    Thương Thương Hà 2 months ago

    For who feels annoyed about this video (and haters).
    It takes years to research and it's not that simple to summarize in a 9-min video. FYI
    There are some bacteria like: Bacillus thuringiensis strain C15, Pseudomonas sp. B10, Pseudomonas sp. SWI36, Bacillus albus strain PFYN01 and even more. You can access more about these articles with her name and some keywords (plastic, bacteria, biodegradation) in the search bar.

  • Mohd Aasif
    Mohd Aasif 2 months ago

    What is name of bacteria which is degraded plastic .what would be efficient for degradation process..

  • Darin Pirkey
    Darin Pirkey 2 months ago

    At least her last name fits the presentation. #Vague

  • R P
    R P 2 months ago

    Wow awesome

  • manfred schmalbach
    manfred schmalbach 2 months ago +1

    Sorry folks, the talk resembled a classic quota scientist's feelings, lacking even the slightest amount of hard facts beyond what a brief google search would produce while being full of overly emphasized phony affection down to her cringeworthy laughs. Not TED-worthy. At. All.

  • Craig Unger
    Craig Unger 2 months ago

    I've heard less redundant speaches from elementary school students, that is to say i have heard less repetitive presentations from children under 12, and preadolescent children have repeated there thesis less during there first public speaking assignment. This post is still less redundant than her speach. Way to give the worst ted speach ive ever heard with no facts or information.

  • jrzf80
    jrzf80 2 months ago

    What if they become so abundant that they start eating any and all plastic even the one that’s not intended to be eaten by them like my favorite plastic spork?

  • ruttles
    ruttles 2 months ago

    Trump read the title of this video and declared it fake news

  • ruttles
    ruttles 2 months ago

    Firstly congratulations on the research, I hope it proves a game-changer. Secondly, it's as rare as hens' teeth that science is a solo effort. Not once did she utter the selfless words "our team". Why not? Also next time she does a Ted talk she shouldn't listen to the person who recommended she talk like a kindergarten teacher.

  • Florian Hansch
    Florian Hansch 2 months ago

    A lot of theory.

  • Karl Pilkington
    Karl Pilkington 2 months ago

    'My' bacteria hmmmm... OK...

  • Jaydon Galas
    Jaydon Galas 2 months ago

    Everyone: plastic
    Her: big tough durable PET plastic

  • Luke Mulcahy
    Luke Mulcahy 2 months ago

    I now know what bacteria are