12. Jul 2023
A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has developed new bioplastics that are made from powdered blue-green cyanobacteria cells, otherwise known as spirulina. The new bioplastics degrade on the same timescale as a banana peel in a backyard compost bin
We use plastics in almost every aspect of our lives. These materials are cheap to make and incredibly stable. The problem comes when we’re done using something plastic — it can persist in the environment for years. Over time, plastic will break down into smaller fragments, called microplastics, that can pose significant environmental and health concerns.
The best-case solution would be to use bio-based plastics that biodegrade instead, but many of those bioplastics are not designed to degrade in backyard composting conditions. They must be processed in commercial composting facilities, which are not accessible in all regions of the country.
A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has developed new bioplastics that degrade on the same timescale as a banana peel in a backyard compost bin. These bioplastics are made entirely from powdered blue-green cyanobacteria cells, otherwise known as spirulina. The team used heat and pressure to form the spirulina powder into various shapes, the same processing technique used to create conventional plastics. The UW team’s bioplastics have mechanical properties that are comparable to single-use, petroleum-derived plastics.
The team published these findings June 20 in Advanced Functional Materials.
“We were motivated to create bioplastics that are both bio-derived and biodegradable in our backyards, while also being processable, scalable and recyclable,” said senior author Eleftheria Roumeli, UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “The bioplastics we have developed, using only spirulina, not only have a degradation profile similar to organic waste, but also are on average 10 times stronger and stiffer than previously reported spirulina bioplastics. These properties open up new possibilities for the practical application of spirulina-based plastics in various industries, including disposable food packaging or household plastics, such as bottles or trays.” MT
read more at https://www.washington.edu/news/2023/07/10/new-biodegradable-plastics-compostable-in-your-backyard/