CRABS TO THE RESCUE
A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a biodegradable plastic substitute using crab shells and tree fibres. The material was made by spraying alternate layers of chitin – a substance found in the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crabs and lobsters – and cellulose from tree fibres onto a surface. The substance resembles the plastic film that is often used to keep food fresh.
PLASTICS RELEASE GREENHOUSE GASES
Many common plastics release the powerful greenhouse gases methane and ethylene when exposed to sunlight, researchers at the University of Hawaii have found. They tested polycarbonate, acrylic, polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethylene – all materials used to make food wrappings, textiles and various plastic goods. Polyethylene, the plastic used in shopping bags, was found to be the biggest emitter of both gases.