South Korean researcher Hwang Sung-Yeon from the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology has recently announced that he has invented a biodegradable plastic bag that is stronger and more durable.
With the advent of environmental protection, plastic consumption has become increasingly concerning. The inability of plastics to degrade means that bags can be left to pollute the Earth and harm wildlife for years.
It has been estimated that South Koreans go through an average of 420 plastic bags each year.
Hence, recent research has focused on the innovation of biodegradable plastic bags that are more eco-friendly.
While the biggest problem with biodegradable plastic bags is their proneness to tearing, Hwang believes that his innovation will solve this issue.
Hwang’s new plastic bag has been marketed as having a tensile strength of 65-70 megapascals. That is about as strong as the nylons in parachutes, which even makes it more durable than single-use plastics.
The secret to this strength may seem a bit unusual. Hwang revealed that the sturdiness of his product is attributed to the wood pulp and crab shells he used as stiffeners.
Crab shells are composed of chitin and chitosan, which are excellent materials that can be used in biodegradable plastics.
Not only are these materials eco-friendly, but they are incredibly sturdy, malleable, and robust.
Additionally, after processing, these crab shell components can appear transparent.
Hwang made his case for why his new plastic bag would be better for human use and environmental protection.
The new bags are stronger and more durable than existing plastic bags and decompose faster.
Biodegradable plastics can be broken down naturally by microorganisms in the environment. Hence, this eliminates the issue of landfill waste that single-use plastics have caused.
If plastics were to no longer persist in the environment, this would have beneficial impacts on marine ecosystems and wildlife.
Hwang’s plastic bag had been shown to decompose within six months completely. And with the help of stiffeners like crab shells, this bag is much stronger than the fragile nature of previous biodegradable bags.
Hwang highlights that it is vital for solutions to be made to plastic consumption.
Climate change requires us to go fossil fuel free. Plastic is all about fossil fue and the solution is bioplastic. I am happy to make a contribution.
Additionally, he hopes that countries will encourage people to use more bioplastic products.
We hope that the plastic materials that are being used at malls, cafes, and other vendors will be replaced with ours.
Hwang believes that while scientists can invent bioplastics, it is ultimately up to governments and businesses to make these biodegradable bags more commercial.