Sandra Pascoe, a researcher from the University of the Valley of Atemajac (Univa), Mexico used the most common variety of edible nopal cactus (the opuntia ficus-indica and the opuntia megacantha) better known as cactus juice to make a biodegradable and bio-based plastics (bioplastics).
Glycerol, natural waxes, proteins and colorants are mixed with the juice after it has been decanted to remove its fiber. The formula is then dried on a hot plate to produce thin sheets of plastic, she was quoted as claiming in her research.
Pascoe is presently collaborating with the University of Guadalajara Center for Biological and Agricultural Sciences to determine how quickly and under what conditions this variety of plastic will decompose.
The Cactus bioplastics could be used to make shopping bags, cosmetic containers, jewelry and toys. They’re currently testing how much weight the plastic can bear to determine what other uses the bioplastics will have. Next steps towards commercialization will be to devise a machine that can make prototypes of the plastic bags .
Meanwhile, according to a Greenpeace report, seven of the eight sea-surface water samples tested contained microplastic, such as microfibres (at least one microplastic element per 1 litre sample).
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