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Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao:
Two young scientists break down plastics with bacteria

TED2013 · 9:20 · Filmed Feb 2013

Once it's created, plastic (almost) never dies. While in 12th grade Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao went in search of a new bacteria to biodegrade plastic — specifically by breaking down phthalates, a harmful plasticizer. They found an answer surprisingly close to home.

Science fair winners
Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao have identified a new bacteria that breaks down nasty compounds called phthalates, common to flexible plastics and linked to health problems. And they’re still teenagers. Full bio