Banana stumps turned into biodegradable plastics
Scientists have transformed the banana plant's cellulose into a recyclable polymer.
KENSINGTON, AUSTRALIA —According to researchers at Australia's University of South Wales, banana growing can be a highly wasteful process with 88 percent of the plant being discarded after fruit harvesting.
The scientists have designed a new method that reduces this waste by reusing the pseudostem, or the banana's trunk, and turning it into biodegradable packaging.
According to the university's press release, the team cut the pseudostem, then dry heated the pieces at low temperatures to remove water.
The process extracts cellulose from banana plant cells in powdered form, which is then chemically treated to become the packaging material.
According to the researchers, the finished product is a baking paper like polymer that may replace plastic bags and single use commercial containers for meat and fruit.
They claimed that tests conducted at the university found the material to be nontoxic and can be recycled up to three times.
According to one of the professors involved in the study, bananas are annual plants and could potentially provide a round the year supply of sustainable packaging material.
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