Making environmentally sustainable bioplastics out of seaweed

It is not news to many that plastic waste is a toxic blight upon our planet. That is why many are working on sustainable alternatives that can break down in the ocean.

But Israeli scientists are working on a biodegradable bioplastic that is derived from marine microorganisms, the New Atlas reports.

While our current plastics are petroleum based, new initiatives derive from plant matter that requires copious amounts of soil and water which are becoming increasingly scarce. This is where sea lettuce steps in.

Heralding from the ocean, sea lettuce is fed to single-celled microorganisms known as Haloferax mediterranei. These organisms then proceed to excrete a bioplastic polymer called polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) that can in turn be used to produce plastics which are completely biodegradable, and produce no toxic waste, the New Atlas reported.

According to the scientists from Tel Aviv University behind the ingenuity of the process, PHAs are one of the most promising research fields, since the resulting bioplastics are completely biodegradable and do not generate any kind of toxic waste whatsoever.

“There are already factories that produce some type of bioplastics in commercial quantities, but they use plants that require agricultural land and fresh water. We have demonstrated that it is possible to produce bioplastics completely based on marine resources in a process that is friendly to both the environment and its residents,” Dr Alexander Goldberg of the Tel Aviv University School of Environmental and Earth Sciences said, according to the Yucatan Times.

Given how prolific seaweed is and the dumping of plastics reaching a crisis point, it is a promising field of endeavour.

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