We humans have been on this planet for centuries. While mankind has flourished we have destroyed the nature with our existence. We have decided that there is nothing more important than ourselves. The destruction we have caused to our environment has reached to a point where it will threaten our existence too. We for centuries have forgotten that we coexist with the planet and all other life forms on it .If we destroy them we also cannot survive.Producing bioplastic from bananapeels is a new revolution.
One such menace human lifestyle has bought is plastic. Plastic is being used for decades by humans. And it amazes me that we couldn’t understand its negative aspect for decades. Or maybe we were just selfish enough to ignore it .Plastic now has become an integral part of our life style. From toys to daily household product to medical equipment’s everything is made of plastic. Packaging material, covers, bowls, glasses, fridges everything has plastic in it. I understand that plastic has been very useful as it is cheap, and can be molded into any form, tough, lightweight and is durable. Which is very beneficial from the human aspect, as we can make anything of plastic. But at what cost, can’t we survive without plastic? Of course we can. But we are selfish enough or ignorant enough to the fact that it is destroying our planet.
Plastic sustains in the environment for a very long time. It takes years to degrade and when it does. These micro plastic particles enter our food chain and cause various health hazards. So what can we do to stop this? We cannot replace all the plastic. All we can do is create a material similar to plastic but biodegradable. Bioplastic is the solution.
Plastic is a high molecular weight polymer. Synthetically these are produced from petrochemicals. Most plastics are made of carbon atoms connected to each other and also to hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine or Sulphur. Commonly used plastics are
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
These plastics come in all shapes and forms from garden hose to food packaging cans. Plastic degrades at a very slow rate and naturally takes decades to do so. Light, temperature, soil, sediments, rocks help in slowly degrading the plastic. But when this plastic degrades it produces toxic chemicals over time. Also the micro plastic particles that sustain in the soil and environment enter our food chain. Over the years they have started to accumulate at different levels of food chain and have started causing health hazards in humans as well as animal life.
BIOPLASTIC FROM BANANA PEEL
Bioplastic are prepared from biomass such as corn, sugarcane and banana peel. Let’s focus on banana peel, something we don’t eat and accumulates as fruit waste can be used to produce bioplastic. It is affordable, reliable and most importantly biodegradable.
- Scraped off the banana peels and cut them into small pieces.
- The cut banana peels were then soaked in sodium meta bisulphite for 45 minutes.
- The solution is then decanted and the peels are boiled in distilled water for 30 minutes.
- The water is decanted and the peels are dried on filter paper for 30 minutes.
- Once dried the peels the ground into a smooth past using a hand mixer.
- To 25 ml of banana paste 6ml of 0.25 N HCl is added.
- To this 2ml of glycerol and 0.5 N NaOH are added (to adjust to the desired pH).
- The mixture is then poured into a petridish and baked at 130 C for 30 minutes in an oven.
- Finally sheets of bioplastic are obtained.
This simple and affordable technique can help us replace plastic carry bags and packaging films at least. Sodium meta bisulphite here act as an antioxidant, disinfectant preventing the growth of microorganisms on the banana peel. On the other hand hydrochloric acid (HCl) helps in hydrolysis, which helps in creating thin films of the bioplastic. Glycerol here plays the role of a plasticiser helping to increase the plasticity and flexibility of the material.
Bioplastic has the capability of carrying 2Kg weight and has enough tensile strength to be used in carry bags. Which are the most common used plastic form and also most common type of plastic trash. Over the years tons and tons of plastic waste has been generated with only 9% recyclable rate. It is very essential that we not only replace plastic which jute, cloth or paper bags but also find a sustainable alternative that is biodegradable.
Bioplastic starts degrading in 3-4 months of it date of manufacture and its natural source ensure that it does not accumulate in the nature even as microplastic particles. I think it is high time that we selfish beings start thinking about our environment, even if it is out of selfishness to survive on this planet.