Concerned about the large number of single-use Styrofoam utensils used to serve food, a group of researchers at Naresuan University in Thailand have developed disposable plates made from tree leaves. They could substitute for Styrofoam without loss of quality for the same use.
Plastic garbage is one of the biggest threats facing the environment. Its indiscriminate use and its unprofitable recycling makes plastic one of the most lethal pollutants on our planet. Developments like this are essential to fight against plastic pollution.
In an interview with the local press, the scientists explained how they arrived at the ideal model. According to them, there were many tests of error-success until they found the ideal material. The ideal leaves for this project come from three types of trees: Petchara Chaowarat, Tectona grandis, and Ficus benghalensis. The collection of the leaves does not harm the tree.
The details of the process have not been published, but the dishes are made only with natural materials. Instead of varnish, for example, the scientists used starch to give these utensils more consistency and shine.
The sheets remain almost intact, only they are molded in the format of the utensil to be manufactured. Furthermore, contrary to what happens with polystyrene foam, they are biodegradable, they decompose anywhere, preferably where there is vegetation. Its decomposition does not adversely affect the soil or other organisms.
Researchers say that its resistance is equivalent to other disposable plastic materials. It can be used for both solid or liquid food, whether hot or cold.
Sitintip Tantanee, a professor at the University and a member of the engineering team that created this product, explains that the intention is to work with the municipal authorities to change the Styrofoam plates for the leaf plates this month at official events. Thus, the usefulness and proper functioning of this new material will be publicly verified.