The Sweetness of Biodegradable Plastics
Now all that is needed is the catalyst to jump start the chemical reactions. Prof. Moshe Kol of Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry and his team are working with the University of Aachen in Germany and the University of Bath in England are working to make these “green” plastics stronger and more heat-resistant, allowing them to be used in a variety of ways, from the automotive industry to Starbucks coffee cups.
The type of plastic the partners are working on, polylactic acid or PLA, is a kind of biodegradable plastic made from renewable plant sources such as corn, wheat or sugarcane. It’s already used in bottles, bags, and film, and like polyester can even be woven into clothes.
He aims to make sustainable corn-based plastics complement or replace the petroleum-based plastics which can take a millenium to degrade, leaving harmful pollutants in the soil and in water. Corn-based plastic wouldn’t cause any adverse health effects and would be expected to biodegrade in a compost bin in a matter of months.
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