Smart kid

It takes 500 to 1,000 years for plastic to decompose, right? A 16-year-old from Waterloo, Canada, made it happen in three months.

Daniel Burd won the top prize—$10,000 and a $20,000 scholarship—at the Canada-Wide Science Fair for his experiment. According to Canadian newspaper The Record, it involved isolating microorganisms that break down plastic. He grew microorganisms by created a solution of household chemicals, water and yeast. After a series of trial and error, he found the strain that broke down plastic the fastest was Sphingomonas bacteria with a helper of Pseudomonas. Burd thinks the process would work on a larger, industrial scale. “All you need is a fermenter … your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags,” he told The Record.