As plastic is one of the biggest pollution contributors, a biodegradable and non-toxic alternative to it sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?
What’s more, this new material is cactus-based!
Namely, Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, a chemical engineering professor at the University of the Valley of Atemajac, has found a new use for the prickly pear cactus, by using its juice as a base for biodegradable plastic.
The new material starts breaking down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a few days. Additionally, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.
Pascoe Ortiz told Forbes that it is entirely non-toxic, and all the materials they use could be ingested both by animals or humans, without causing any harm.
She creates the material in different colors, shapes, thickness, and strength, by juicing cactus leaves and adding a ‘non-toxic formula’. Next, she laminates the liquid and leaves it to dry.
Her most recent samples are light green in color, paper-thin and so tough that can be used as bags and cutlery and thus replace single-use plastics.
Right now, the manufacturing process is largely limited to Ortiz’s lab, and the production time to create the cactus-plastic material takes about 10 days, but she is still investigating which cactus leaves are the best for creating the product.
She hopes that this newly-developed environmentally-friendly material will lower the impact of solid waste in Mexico and all around the world. Keep up the good work!