We all know what havoc plastic wreaks on our environment. When it's not running off into our lakes and choking fish, it's fusing with sand, wood and natural debris and forming permanent litter that will far outlast us. Wouldn't it be great it we could make biodegradable plastic out of agriculture waste? Turns out we can.
A team of Italian researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology has developed a new method of turning waste materials produced as a result of large-scale industrial into renewable plastic. According to a study in Macromolecules spotted by Quartz:
It works when cocoa pod husks, rice hulls, or parsley and spinach stems are bathed in a solution of trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) to extract their cellulose, a strong biopolymer with a range of properties, from rigid to soft and stretchy. The resulting materials can be substituted for some conventional plastics.
The new method is faster and much less expensive than the standard methods for producing bioplastics, which are not only expensive and energy-intensive, but also use crops like corn, which can be used to feed people. And it's a great solution to get rid of tons of the world's agricultural waste. [Macromolecules via Quartz]