“My idea is to produce a plastic from natural ingredients and substitute it for some of the plastics we use today.”
The BBC has shone a spotlight on a Mexican researcher who has discovered a way to produce biodegradable bioplastic from cactus juice.
Sandra Pascoe, who is based at the Mexican University of the Valley of Atemajac (Univa [@SistemaUNIVA]), used the most common variety of edible nopal cactus to make the bioplastic.
The plastic is made out of the sugars (monosaccharides and polysaccharides) of nopal juice. The sugars, pectin and organic acids in the juice give it a very viscous consistency. Thanks to the viscosity, a solid and flexible material can be produced.
The BBC has featured Pascoe in a video discussing her innovation. She told the media channel: “My idea is to produce a plastic from natural ingredients and substitute it for some of the plastics we use today.”
Pascoe wants her product to eventually replace fossil fuel-based plastic cutlery, bags, and other single-use plastic products.
Her material takes one month to biodegrade when left in the soil and just a few days in water. The material is also edible and can be ingested by animals and humans. Pascoe said if her material did end up the sea “the fish or other sea life” could eat it.
There are currently 300 species of nopal cactus are based in Mexico. Pascoe is currently researching which one is the best in order to produce her bioplastic on an industrial scale.
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