It gets to this time of year (and don't those years seem to pass with increasing speed? I blame Einstein) and magazines around the world are filling up with seasonal features, the perennial solstice copy, the annual round-ups, the Top Ten stories of the year you shouldn't have missed. The plans for the coming year, the resolutions, the hopes, the dreams. Well, depending on your frame of mind at the time of reading it all gets a bit tedious and same-old or it's great fun and a welcome relief. Either way, the glass is never half full nor ever half empty, even if it's suspended in a vacuum, it's still full of empty space, and that's something isn't it?

So, should I end the year with my pick of the materials of 2015? Or not? As I've said several times there seem to be so many breakthroughs, wonder materials, and cutting edge discoveries, at least according to the continuum of scientific press release. Some subjects are indeed rather worthy of attention, and we do cover those in the news pages. But with global terrorism, climate change, oceans full of plastic, the end of antibiotics and an imminent American election, is there anything truly wonderful to report at this juncture?

On Facebook recently, I spotted a photo of an old guitar hero of mine…he's actually an old family friend…Rod Clements of Geordie folk-rock band Lindisfarne. In the photo he's posing with a guitar that just happens to be made of plastic. It's a proper acoustic guitar, makes a proper sound and all. It's not the first, I have an electro-acoustic Ovation which has a plastic body, although the soundboard is wood and I remember 20 years ago writing about plastic guitars that Gordon Giltrap was playing that came out of research at Leicester University. So as a guitarist with an interest in the future of the polymeric luthier's craft, it was slightly worrying to write about polystyrene-digesting microbes earlier in the year and to hear from a physicist friend about another bacterium that can metabolize polythene. It is only a matter of time before we become aware of species that can break down all the other polymers too, isn't it?

Now, plastic rot has not been a problem so far. Even biodegradable plastic bags seem to take years to disintegrate. But, in what we less than affectionately think of as the "plastic age" what happens if microbial strains emerge from the soil, the oceans or elsewhere that can take chunks out of all the engineering, automatic and telecommunications components on which our modern infrastructure rests? We will not be imaging plastic tumbler is half full nor half empty if it's turned to sludge in our hands, now will we? Mind you, it could make overstuffed landfill and islands of oceanic plastic a thing of the past…

David Bradley blogs at Sciencebase Science Blog and tweets @sciencebase, he is author of the bestselling science book "Deceived Wisdom".