According tomedia New Atlas, marine plastic waste is a huge problem, whether it is endangering marine animals, clogging their guts when ingested, or forming huge floating “blocks of garbage.” However, the emergence of products in the form of a degradable plastic that is considered to be a better marine organism may offer new hope.
First, some groups have developed plastics that are environmentally degradable in the marine environment. But, according to Osaka University in Japan, they have three main drawbacks: they are worse in quality than conventional plastics, more than twice the cost of production, and can only be manufactured in relatively small quantities.
However, the team, led by Taka-Aki Asoh, an associate professor at Osaka University, and Hiroshi Uyama, a professor, developed another type of transparent plastic, whose main components are cellulose nanofibers and starch, both from plants. Thanks to the proprietary production process, the final product has been shown to be water resistant and high-strength, and highly biodegradable when floating in seawater for long periods of time.
Moreover, since the plastic is not oil-based, its production should not produce any greenhouse gases. “Because we can develop marine biodegradable plastic sheets by combining familiar materials, such as starch and cellulose, because they are cheap and simple in manufacturing, we can expect this material to be put into practice soon,” Asoh said. “We have high hopes that our materials will help address the growing global problem of marine litter accumulation and have a significant social impact. “