Pollution from plastics is one of the most important phenomena we face in this century. Fortunately, many researchers and companies are moving to combat this phenomenon by promoting innovative projects. Among these, Australian researchers at Deakin University have proposed a new way to produce a material similar to plastic, using cotton waste. Let’s find out together what it is specifically about.
What Happens to Non Biodegradable Plastic?
The current plastic is an oil-derived polymer. As such, few know that it is not biodegradable. Currently it is possible to dispose of the plastic in dedicated plants, or recycle it, i.e. put it back into production through a transformation process. However, it can in no way be absorbed by the environment in the same way as other organic materials.
Plastic derived from oil is never biodegradable, at most it can disintegrate into microplastics but it does not dissolve. The microplastics float on the seas and penetrate into the organic tissues. They are transported by the winds and are even incorporated into the orogenesis of the rocks. In this regard, geologists have begun to talk about Anthropocene. With such expression they refer to the current geological era characterized by pollutants due to the industrialization of the last three centuries and visible in the conformation of the most recent rocks.
Bioplastics From Cotton Waste
Discovering new materials is a matter of urgency. After all, in fact, it is difficult to imagine a world that renounces the ductility of plastic. The only way to save the planet is to replace the traditional polluting plastic with the new 100% biodegradable plastics.
After 18 months of experimentation, Deakin University has announced the discovery of a new bioplastic produced from cotton waste. The team coordinated by Dr. Maryam Naebe found a way to reuse the linter, a waste fiber produced in the processing of cotton. In fact, they literally dissolved it in a liquid polymer, which is as moldable and ductile as traditional plastic. In this way, for example, it is possible to obtain a biodegradable plastic film which is great for packaging.
This is a fundamental step to contribute to the growth of the circular economy. It is estimated, in fact, that 29 million tonnes of linter are produced each year, which now ends up in the incinerator. The advantages of this innovation are therefore many:
- less use of toxic substances for the production of plastics;
- 100% biodegradable plastic from the transformation of the linter;
- lower CO2 emissions due to non-incineration of the linter;
- higher earnings for cotton producers because they can resell the linter.