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3 Mexican students develop biodegradable plastics with banana peels

3 Mexican students develop biodegradable plastics with banana peels

As a fruit, bananas are perfectly packaged. All the protection they need is provided by their resistant and flexible shells. A sixteen-year-old Turkish student, Elif Bilgin, discovered that the starches and cellulose contained in the outer layer of bananas can also be used to create materials that insulate wires and form medical prostheses.

In Mexico, the subject was also investigated and its creators, three high school students, seek to solve the problems derived from the excessive use of conventional plastics.

The creators. José Edmundo Balderas Castro, 17 years old; Israel Daniel Hernández García, 18, and Aranza Meza Dorantes, 17, participated in the London International Youth Science Forum in 2016.

Purpose With this work, students of the Santiago High School of the Popular Autonomous University of the State of Puebla (UPAEP) seek a solution to the pollution problems generated by traditional plastics, which take 100 to 1,000 years to degrade.

Degradation. "The importance is that this plastic degrades in about a month, unlike petroleum-based plastics, which take years," Daniel Hernández told Efe Israel.

Initiative. Inspired by a project developed by the young woman from Turkey, these students decided to consolidate and improve it so that the material had greater functions. "It is a fairly simple process, it can be said that it can be manufactured in your own home, which is one of the advantages," said the young man.

The formula. The products that make the creation of biodegradable plastic possible are, in addition to banana peel, cornstarch, vinegar and glycerin. After 24 hours in the sun this mixture turns into a plastic material that is still in an experimental phase.

Objective. "We are working on the resistance and impermeability of this plastic so that it can be made firm and also resists the liquid without any problem of breaking, and that it can be taken to a more industrial level", Aranza Meza.

Creation. So far these young people have managed to create a resealable bag, an achievement they consider important because "it is one of the utensils that we see being used every day," said the student.

Investment. With just two banana peels, 50 by 50 centimeter plates can be created with a total cost of no more than 14 pesos ($ 0.76).

Here's a video of how to turn banana peel into plastic:

Photo: Juan Carlos Sanchez

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