Natural rival to plastics
NATURAL ingredients are being used in a biodegradable alternative to plastic which has been developed by British scientists who claim it could be a “turning point” in the pollution battle.
The product, called Toraphene, uses sources such as seaweed, maize, sugar beet, mushrooms and bacteria.
It combines biopolymers from living organisms such as plants with graphene – a carbon derivative which is tougher than diamonds at the atomic level.
Toraphene is described as “the world’s first truly biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic packaging”.
Gaute Juliussen, of the Londonbased firm named after the product, wants to make plastic packaging, which is worth £ 3trillion, obsolete.
He claims Toraphene is stronger, thinner and less permeable than alternatives which improves food safety and shelf- life.
Plastic’s versatility means it has been used worldwide but about 10 million tons of it enter oceans every year.
Most if it is eventually shredded by rocks, wind and waves and sinks to the seabed and enters the food chain.
One study predicted that at current rates there will be more plastic by weight in the sea than fish by 2050.
Gaute, a Norwegian investor looking for funding to continue development, said many existing plastic alternatives break down in production or result in the release of microplastics.
He said: “Plastic waste is known to be a huge, global problem and many plastic alternatives now exist, so why don’t we see them everywhere?
“It’s because they need specific man- made conditions to biodegrade, and many degrade into microplastics.”
Meanwhile, the Marine Conservation Society wants people to fit a £ 30 filter on the waste pipe of new washing machines to reduce microfibres from laundry. Normal loads can release up to 700,000 of the plastic threads.