Breakthrough in recycling plastics and the 16-year-old pilot flying supplies to rural hospitals

It is hard to switch off news about coronavirus, simply because it is why we are where we are right now. It is important to stay up to date with it, and to adhere to the recommendations in place, but it has become hard to spot the good news beyond the kind deeds of people through this outbreak (not that this is a problem, good deeds are always appreciated).

Today’s #FourForApril delves into the exciting breakthrough in recycling plastics, how the African black rhino population is on the rise, but also mentions even more good deeds by those through these tough times because kindness will never stop.

Scientists create breakthrough enzyme that recycles plastic in just hours

A new discovery may be a game changer for the way plastic bottles are recycled. (Mali Maeder, Pexels)

Scientists have developed a mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in just hours.

Originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, the enzyme managed to reduce the bottles to chemical building blocks and was then used to make high-quality new bottles. Current methods usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.

Carbios, the company behind the discovery, said it was aiming for the enzyme to be used in industrial-scale recycling within five years.

It has already partnered with major companies including Pepsi and L’Oréal to accelerate development.

Experts called the new enzyme a major advance in the war on tackling plastic pollution.

The team used the optimised enzyme to break down a tonne of waste plastic bottles, which were 90% degraded within 10 hours.

The scientists then used the material to create new food-grade plastic bottles.

Carbios has a deal with the biotechnology company Novozymes to produce the new enzyme on a larger scale using fungi.

You can read more about this fantastic discovery here.

16-year-old uses experience to fly medical supplies to rural hospitals

TJ Kim, from Virginia, is flying medical supplies to rural hospitals to help them in their efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. (Matheus Bertelli, Pexels)

A 16-year-old pilot has been using his flying experience for good, bringing desperately needed supplies to rural hospitals in need.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, TJ Kim has been carrying gloves, masks, gowns and other equipment to small hospitals.

When he made his first delivery, in March, he was taken aback by the reception from the rural hospital.

He told Associated Press: “They kind of conveyed to me that they were really forgotten about. Everyone was wanting to send donations to big city hospitals.”

After his school closed, TJ lost the ability to play his favourite sport, lacrosse.

Instead of letting himself get upset about it, the student who goes to school in Maryland, brainstormed with his family in McLean, Virginia, ways to keep active, and to serve the community while he had the time.

TJ settled on a project, Operation SOS (Supplies Over Skies) and the support started from there.

One of his flights has carried 3,000 gloves, 1,000 head covers, 500 shoe covers, 50 non-surgical masks, 20 pairs of protective eyewear and 10 concentrated bottles of hand sanitiser to help supply a hospital in Woodstock.

The goal, he said, is to make deliveries to all seven rural hospitals in Virginia defined as critical access hospitals.

You can read more about this incredible act by TJ Kim here.

Donations help isolated patients speak to families

A Facebook group is helping to supply electronics that patients in hospital can use to speak to loved ones. (Pixabay, Pexels)

One of the most heartbreaking things about coronavirus is that families have been unable to accompany their ill loved ones into hospital.

Kindness has, however, tried to tackle this issue.

People have been joining together to make sure that patients and care home residents can speak to family through donated tablet computers and mobile phones.

As part of a method to restrict the spread of COVID-19, visitor bans have been imposed by health boards and local authorities in hospitals.

One woman, Sara Platt, was inspired to start a Facebook group to overcome this barrier after her one-year-old son Kohan was rushed to hospital with suspected coronavirus.

Thankfully, Kohan was not infected with the virus, but being unable to see her son while he was in the isolation ward sparked Sara to create a group which facilitates the donation of these items to NHS staff, wards and patients.

The Facebook group behind the donations, NHS Kindness Wishlist, has gained more than 16,000 members in less than two weeks.

It has helped raise almost £30,000 worth of items for more than 70 wards and health facilities across Wales, including dozens of tablets and mobile phones.

Working with her sister Hayley, the pair run the operation together, taking requests for certain items from NHS ward managers, creating “wish lists” on Amazon, and then promoting it on the page.

Rhian Williams, a respiratory nurse specialist at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital said staff had been “blown away” by people’s kindness, and it had “boosted morale”.

You can read more about this story behind the NHS Kindness Wishless Facebook group here.

African black rhino population on the rise

The population of the African black rhino appears to be rising once again. (Casey Allen, Pexels)

The number of African black rhinos is slowly rising thanks to the efforts of conservationists, new figures have shown.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said in an update that the total number of these critically endangered rhinos increased from 4,845 in 2012 to 5,630 in 2018 – an annual rise of 2.5 per cent. 

A combination of law enforcement measures and actions taken to manage the rhino population, such as the relocation of certain animals, has helped to improve these numbers. 

Excitingly, population models from the IUCN indicate that the number of black rhinos is likely to continue to rise gradually over the next five years. 

You can read more about this great news here.

Bonus positive

This kind act from a stranger for an NHS nurse 🙂

Every day in April, we will be sharing four positive news stories in one post under the hashtag #FourForApril. Got any kindness stories? Send them in! We’d love the world to hear about these good deeds by good people 🙂

Thanks for reading one of our positive stories!

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