Researchers at USC are looking to turn recycled plastic trash into pharmaceutical products.
ABC 7 says eighty percent of marine pollution comes from plastic waste, and UNESCO says there are nearly 80 tons of discarded plastic in what's known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between California and Hawaii, three times the size of France.
So a team of USC researchers decided to take some of the trash that has washed up on Catalina Island and turn it into pharmaceuticals.
The researchers formulated a method to chemically recycle polyethylene plastic, which is commonly found in products like plastic bags.
Mother nature helps pre-treat the debris by breaking it down in the ocean, then chemists start their portion of the work.
"We are going to take the substrates from the chemistry lab, feed it to our fungi and be able to produce molecules that are then used for either anti-cancer, antibiotics and cure human diseases," said Clay Wang, a pharmacy professor at USC.
Researchers say this method of chemically recycling trash can be more efficient than other methods normally used in the pharmaceutical industry.
The ultimate goal for the research team is to go beyond chemically recycling polyethylene plastics for pharmaceutical use.
They want to apply this method to a mixture of different plastics and products.