Climate changeInternationalNews

Bioplastics made from prawn shells

Could the future include bioplastics made from prawn shells?

The Harvard Wyss Institute have released an interesting article regarding a project their researchers have been undertaking. It involves large-scale manufacturing of various products with a fully bio-degradable plastic-like material. This material has been created from prawn shells (!). It’s called chitosan and it’s “second most abundant organic material on Earth”. The amazing part; it contains the same properties as synthetic plastic. However, it provides no threat to the environment or our food supply.

Bioplastics could actually encourage plant growth

The video below features a plant growing in some of the bio-plastic. It helps prove the material is so non-toxic that when returned to the environment it encourages plant growth. Think about the damage waste plastics currently cause plant and animal life in comparison.

We actually already use this product

According to the article this chitosan bio-plastic is already in use for products like fertiliser, cosmetics or dietary supplements. However, engineers have been able to form common, every day items from the bio-plastic. Imagine food containers that will biodegrade after use!

Bioplastics made from prawn shells

Chess pieces made from Bioplastics. Credit: Harvard Wyss Insitute

“Our scalable manufacturing method shows that chitosan, which is readily available and inexpensive, can serve as a viable bioplastic that could potentially be used instead of conventional plastics for numerous industrial applications.”Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Our world is filling with environmentally damaging plastic that will never biodegrade. A move to bioplastics could be essential for the future of the planet and it’s inhabitants. Plastic drinks bottles and take away boxes that will actually encourage plant growth – sounds too good to be true!

Plastic waste piled in water

If you want to read more about this breakthrough the article is available here.


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