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German researchers create a degradable plastic from food industry waste

German researchers create a degradable plastic from food industry waste

German researchers create a degradable plastic from food industry waste

Two researchers from Hamburg have managed to develop a “bio-plastic” from waste from the food industry. The new plastic is bio-degradable and should help to reduce environmental pollution.

Developing a “bio-plastic”

Two researchers from the Hamburg University of Technology, Anne Lamp and Johanna Baare, have developed a plastic that is biodegradable and can be completely broken down within two weeks. Announcing their research in the Hamburg Journal, the scientists wrote, “The biggest criticism of bio-plastics that are currently on the market is that they are made from food. That's why our motivation was to use residues from food processing.”

“It was precisely our aim to find a solution for the products that would end up in nature so that they would not continue to pollute our environment and be a disadvantage for animals and people, but actually disappear,” said Baare.

New bio-plastic is made from natural polymers

Lamp and Baare developed their new, natural material using plastic as a blueprint. Plastic is a fantastic material for all different kinds of purposes because it is very stable and resilient - a property that comes from the fact that it is made up of very long chains of molecules. But this advantage is also plastic's major disadvantage: in nature, it takes a long time for these molecule chains to break down. 

"What we have done in the last few decades is to artificially produce polymers from individual fragments that nature cannot break down at all," explains Lamp. But nature itself is also able to produce these kinds of polymers - which are naturally biodegradable. It is these natural polymers that Lamp and Baare utilised for their new material. "We prefer to use nature's polymers because they can then be broken down again."

The researchers expect the market for bio-plastics to expand enormously in the next few years and hope to occupy a part of the market with their newly developed product.

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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