Mexican Scientists Saving The Planet: Make Biodegradable Plastic Out Of Nopales
Saving the planet, one nopal at a time.
Researcher Sandra Pascoe has developed a uniquely Mexican method of making biodegradable plastic: out of nopal juice.
After many experiments, Sandra Pascoe, of the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac (Univa) in Guadalajara, México, has developed a method of turning nopal juice into an environmentally-friendly biodegradable plastic.
Sandra started out grinding up small chunks of dried nopal to make the plastic mixture, but the result oxidized too quickly. So she turned to the juice.
“Basically, the plastic is formed from the sugars of the liquid in the nopal,” she said.
She mixes the juice with glycerine, natural waxes, proteins, and colorings to create a mixture that is dried on irons to make thin sheets of plastic.
Sandra and her team's experiments show that the plastic is indeed biodegradable, disintegrating in water and degrading over time on compost heaps, although more tests have to be done to confirm.
Sandra hopes that the nopal plastic (nopalastic?) can be used to make biodegradable plastic bags for supermarkets and stores. But, she says that it can be used to make other things as well, such as containers and even toys.
As the team conducts further tests to determine sturdiness and durability, they may discover even more potential uses.
The humble nopal may help us save the planet.