British scientists may have created an environmentally friendly plastic from straw in an effort to cut on pollution caused by normal plastic.
DailyMail.com has reported that the team of scientists from both Warwick and York Universities made this breakthrough during their research in finding something to replace regular plastic. They discovered that by messing with a microbe's genes, it will be then able to quicken the plant material's conversion into bioplastics that will break down naturally. This causes it to overproduce an enzyme that will change the lignin (the organic polymer that keeps plants standing) into a new product, will can then be used to make biodegradable plastic that's much better for the environment.
Lignin is also a by-product of paper and can be produced in mass quantities, allowing its price tag to remain low. This creates an environmentally-friendly alternative that's also cheap- a combination that will no doubt appeal to corporations, who are always looking to save money whenever possible. Scientists explain that five percent of this straw could make about 8.5 billion plastic water bottles with the biodegradable material.
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While this is obviously good news for those who are environmentally conscious, it doesn't look like this new technology will be available anytime soon. The same group of scientists estimate this new biodegradable plastic won't be ready for mass production for about five years. This means that it'll take even longer before it's released for corporations and the general public to purchase.
Plastic pollution has been in the news for many years due to its harm it's caused to humans, animals, and the environment. A 2017 research report from Science Advances reveals that 8.3 billion Metric tons has been produced since the 1950s, when plastic debuted.
It's clear that many want to eliminate plastic once and for all, but it can be hard to see how that will be done. Once this environmentally friendly plastic is made available, it could very well mark the real beginning of the end for plastic consumption— and in turn, plastic pollution.