August 23, 2014
Turning Waste From Rice, Parsley And Other Foods Into Biodegradable Plastic
Your chairs, synthetic rugs and plastic bags could one day be made out of cocoa, rice and vegetable waste rather than petroleum, scientists are now reporting. The novel process they developed and their results, which could help the world deal with its agricultural and plastic waste problems, appear in the ACS journal Macromolecules.
They turned to an organic acid that also occurs naturally and can process cellulose, which is the main building component of plants and also the most abundant polymer in nature. They mixed the acid with parsley and spinach stems, and husks from rice and cocoa pods. Then, they poured the resulting solutions into lab dishes. When tested, the films that formed showed a promising range of traits from brittle and rigid to soft and stretchable — similar to commercial plastics. “This opens up possibilities for replacing some of the non-degrading polymers with the present bioplastics obtained from agro-waste,” the researchers conclude.
Reference: "Direct Transformation of Edible Vegetable Waste into Bioplastics" - Macromolecules