TOWARDS A BIO-DEGRADABLE PLASTIC
Careers 360|September 2020
A team of three students at NIT Raipur created a material out of starches that could potentially be a substitute for plastic.
Abhay Anand

Could the humble sabudana – or, sago – come to the rescue? One of the biggest environmental challenges is the indestructibility of plastic. It is cheap and massively durable. It can take a century to degrade but even then is not fully decomposed. Massive investments are going into finding a replacement that will have a less harmful effect on the environment, the seas and its fauna in particular. Until it is found, national and international bodies have recommended limiting or banning its use.

Three students of National Institute of Technology Raipur, in Chhattisgarh, may have found the answer or, at least, a part of it. They have developed a material that behaves like plastic, is reusable, decomposes fully and fast and has as key components sago, cornstarch and glycerine. The students just need to make the material more stretchable which will instantly expand and diversify its use.

Combatting pollution

Three students of the chemical engineering department of NIT Raipur, who are in their fourth semester, worked on this together.

Nikhil Verma, one of the three, said: “Increasing pollution in the earth’s environment, which includes the use of non-biodegradable plastics, was the major concern that brought us together. To overcome the use of non-biodegradable plastic and the problem of dumping and decomposition, we came up with this idea of creating a biodegradable plastic which can decompose easily without polluting the environment, and thus protecting it.”

The plastic that is now available in abundance does not fully decompose even in a 100 years. The biodegradable plastic developed by NIT Raipur students decomposes 100 percent in a year. “This plastic is also reusable. This is a better alternative to single-use plastic,” said Verma.

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