New research into bioplastic polymers is promising a product that requires no land or water to produce, is biodegradable, and produces zero toxic waste.
The work done at Tel Aviv University and published in the journal Bioresource Technology uses marine microorganisms to produce a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).
The raw material was a multicellular seaweed, cultivated in the sea, the researchers explain. These were eaten by single-celled microorganisms, which produce a polymer that can be used to make bioplastic.
The researchers point out that plastic accounts for up to 90 per cent of all the pollutants in the oceans, yet there are few environmentally friendly alternatives.
Bioplastics, which don’t use petroleum and degrade quickly, are one solution but growing the plants or the bacteria to make the plastic requires soil and fresh water, which many countries, including Israel, don’t have.
This new process will enable countries with a shortage of fresh water, such as Israel, China and India, to switch from petroleum-derived plastics to biodegradable plastics, the researchers say.