SUBSTITUTE FOR SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

Recently, the researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (IISc) have found a way to make a substitute for single-use plastic (SUP) that can, in principle, help mitigate the problem of accumulating plastic waste in the environment.

Important points:

  • Possible In the research, Non-edible Castor oil was used in this process of making the polymer which involves allowing them to react with the cellulose (from agriculture stubble) and di-isocyanate compound.
  • These polymers can be moulded into sheets having properties suitable for making bags, cutlery or containers.
  • The material so made is biodegradable, leak-proof and non-toxic.

Advantages:

  • Given the surge in the usage of single use plastics and the challenge of managing the landfills choked with SUPs, such alternatives could bring paradigm shift especially in the packaging sector, the largest consumer of SUP.
  • Agricultural stubble burning is responsible for air pollution in several northern states in India.
  • In Delhi, for example, the air quality index dips to indicate “severe” or “hazardous” level of pollution every winter, and this is due in part to the burning of agricultural stubble in the surrounding regions.
  • Using agriculture stubble for replacement of single use plastics will not address the problem of air pollution, but will generate additional income opportunities for farmers also.
  • As the material is biodegradable and non-toxic, researchers are planning to use the material for healthcare applications also.

Way Forward

  • Countries must embrace circular and sustainable economic practices throughout the plastics value chain to reduce plastic pollution.
  • A circular economy depends on reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling of resources to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resources, generation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.

SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT

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