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. Much of the plastic in trash may not degrade for 5,000 years. The bacteria found can transform phthalates into carbon dioxide, water and alcohol. The most efficient degraders came from the landfill site. This technology is still in the research phase and has a long way to go but could be a great solution to much of our waste issues. For more information you can watch Wang and Yao's conference about their discovery here.