Mexican Researcher Creates Biodegradable Plastic With Cactus Juice

Image: Jorge Valencia / KJZZ

Sandra Pascoe, a professor of chemical engineering at the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac, has devised a new use for the prickly pear cactus – a staple in the country’s diet – using its juice as a basis for the manufacture of biodegradable plastics.

A safe and sustainable alternative to plastic, safe for consumption and that takes a week to biodegrade in water.

Mexican researcher Sandra Pascoe Ortiz has developed a new form of biodegradable plastic made mainly from cactus juice.

This alternative to conventional plastic takes around a month to biodegrade if left in the ground and only a week if soaked in water, and is safe for both human and animal consumption.

Ortiz produces the material, which can be of different colors, shapes, thickness and strength, with the juice of the cactus leaves, adding to it a “non-toxic formula” – she then laminates the liquid and lets it dry.

Image: Jorge Valencia / KJZZ

A natural ‘substitute’.

In an article in the BBC’s People Fixing The World, Oritz said:

My idea is to produce plastic from natural ingredients and replace it with some of the plastics that we use today.

If this plastic reaches the sea, it is most likely eaten by fish or other marine life, and it would not cause them ‘any harm’.

The BBC reports that Ortiz wants his product to replace some single-use plastics, such as cutlery and bags, as more countries reduce plastic consumption.

The production time to create the plastic-cactus is currently around 10 days, and Ortiz is still researching which cactus leaves are the best to create the product, but he keeps the plant alive so it keeps growing more leaves.

Via www.bbc.co.uk – kjzz.org

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