Plastics from potatoes and rubber from rice
Starches and cellulose from plants provide polymers for compostable plastics
Researchers from the University of Leicester are working to modify starch and cellulose from plants into compostable plastics to replace petroleum-based polymers.
Starch and cellulose are produced by all plants in vast quantities and are a potential source of polymers. In the past starch and cellulose produced plastics too powdery and brittle for most packaging needs. The research team has devised a method of merging the glucose within starch and cellulose with naturally occurring modifiers to produce a versatile and compostable plastic.
"Current biodegradable plastics such as those based on polylactic acid or starch is too rigid and needs to be blended with petroleum based polymers,” says Professor Andrew Abbott from the University of Leicester. “We have developed a method that will produce materials that range from elastic to rigid polymers, without using petroleum based products."
The new method produces compostable starch-based packaging from inexpensive, naturally occurring materials, promising a breakthrough in plastics production.
"Starch and cellulose can be derived from our food waste, such as potato peelings, which will not impact food production and will decrease the amount of food going to landfill," says Andrew.
Home starch experiments
Audio intro - Andrew Ballantyne