3 Mexican Students Want to Fight Pollution With Their Biodegradable Plátano Plastic

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Three Mexican high school students have proven just how magical bananas are. On top of being in some of my favorite desserts (i.e. banana pudding), plátanos can be used to make plastic. By combining a peel, cornstarch, vinegar, and glycerin, José Edmundo Balderas Castro, Israel Daniel Hernández García, and Aranza Meza Dorantes have created a plátano plastic. “It’s a fairly simple process, and you can technically can make it in your own house, which is one of the advantages,” 18-year-old Israel told EFE.

The students from Bachillerato Santiago de la Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla took on this project because they wanted to tackle the pollution problems caused by petroleum-based plastic. After mixing the four ingredients and leaving it out in the sun for 24 hours, the end result is a plastic-like product. Plátano plastic is more than just functional; it’s also good for the environment. It only takes a month for the plastic to decompose. Regular petroleum plastic can take around 100 to 1,0000 years.

With just two banana peels, a 20-by 20-inch product can be made at a cost of ~76 cents. The young scientists are currently working on improving their product. “We’re working on the resistance and impermeability of the plastic so that it firms up and contains liquid without breaking, and we want to take it to an industrial level,” Israel said.

While it’s not the first time bananas have been used to make plastic – the high school students were actually inspired by a young Turkish student – they are trying to make their product more functional. So far, they have created a resealable bag with the formula, and they hope to use it to replace the plastic lining on notebook covers. 

Equipped with their biodegradable plátano plastic, the trio will head to the London International Youth Science Forum between July 27 and August 10. Check out a video of them in action below: