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Recycling Plastics

On this week’s newsdesk: turning plastic waste into fuel, a sweet way to monitor pollutants, and researchers play music to cheese!

Clean fuel from plastic waste

When plastic waste gets into the environment, it can be very harmful to wildlife. Dr Linda Wang is trying to tackle the problem. She’s developed a way to turn one type of plastic waste into useful products, like fuels.

First, the waste is made into small pellets. Water is heated to extremely high temperatures in a special machine. The machine adds the pellets to the water and they slowly turn into an oil. This oil can be transformed into clean fuels, which could be used in place of petrol or diesel.

Dr Wang hopes this will encourage companies to use plastic waste, instead of throwing it away.

The pollen-pollution count

When bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers, they also pick up tiny amounts of pollutants. Pollutants are substances that harm the environment – they’re released by things like vehicles, factories and farms. Bees carry the pollutants back to their hives where they end up in their honey.

Now scientists in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada, are using honey to measure pollutant levels. Bees usually visit flowers within a small area – up to three kilometres from their hives. So by studying honey from hives across Vancouver, the scientists can map the amount and types of pollutants in different parts of the city.

They think honey could be a cheap and easy way for people around the world to measure pollutants in their local area without the need for lots of scientific knowledge, or expensive equipment.

What are the cheesiest songs?

Have you ever wondered how cheese responds to music?

No? Well, neither have we!

However, researchers in Burgdorf, Switzerland, did ask themselves that question. They took nine wheels of the same kind of cheese and played a different sound, or type of music, to each one – including rock, classical, and hip-hop. Several months later, a group of food experts tasted the cheeses.

The result? They found that the cheese that was played hip-hop tasted stronger and fruitier than the others! The researchers think this could be because vibrations from the music affect the “ripening” process that gives cheese its flavour. So what kind of music do you think would make the tastiest cheese?!

Learn more…

Discover why plastic has caused a problem for environmentalists, and why Dr. Wang’s work is so important, with our Twig film, Recycling Plastics.