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Israeli discovery overcomes need for fertile soil and fresh water in the creation of eco-friendly bioplastics by using saltwater seaweed

New sustainable way to create plastics from seaweed


By —— Bio and Archives--January 16, 2019

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New sustainable way to create plastics from seaweed
Everyone knows plastic is bad for the environment. That’s why bioplastics – plastics made from renewable sources like plants or old waste – were invented. But these bioplastics can’t be created everywhere since the plants they use require fresh water, a scarce resource in many countries.

 

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One such country is Israel, which does not have a surplus of fresh water. Other countries suffering from the same problem are China and India, whose size and resulting plastic consumption is very bad news for the planet.

This is the problem researchers from Tel Aviv University wished to resolve by developing bioplastic polymers derived from microorganisms that feed on seaweed. These can be bred in salty seawater without impinging on scarce freshwater resources.

The result is a biodegradable polymer that produces zero toxic waste and recycles into organic waste. The study that led to it, carried out by Alexander Golberg and Prof. Michael Gozin from Tel Aviv University, was recently published in the journal Bioresource Technology.

“Plastics take hundreds of years to decay. So bottles, packaging and bags create plastic ‘continents’ in the oceans, endanger animals and pollute the environment,” said Golberg, a senior lecturer at TAU’s Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.

“A partial solution to the plastic epidemic is bioplastics, which don’t use petroleum and degrade quickly. But bioplastics also have an environmental price: to grow the plants or the bacteria to make the plastic requires fertile soil and fresh water, which many countries, including Israel, don’t have,” he added.


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