Scientist Creates Compostable Plastic Out of Cactus that Biodegrades in a Month

June 24, 2019 at 4:04 pm

Cactus leaves could provide a far more sustainable material for single-use bioplastics than corn, as they grow abundantly in the desert without using any farmland, fertilizers, pesticides or petroleum

Most bioplastics are made from corn, sugarcane or cassava, agricultural crops that all have a giant carbon footprint.

They require tons of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, petroleum and farmland that could otherwise be used for growing food.

Luckily, some brilliant minds are coming up with lower impact alternatives.

A few months ago, a Mexican entrepreneur figured out how to make bioplastic from discarded avocado pits collected from an avocado processing factory. Now, a Mexican scientist has found a way to make it from cactus.

Cactus grows wild and rampant in Mexico and in many deserts around the world, with no agricultural inputs and requiring no farmland.

Plus, only the leaves need to be broken off, which grow back quickly.

Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, a chemical engineering professor at the University of the Valley of Atemajac, has been experimenting with the prickly pear cactus.

She’s developed non-toxic, safe-to-ingest plastic that biodegrades in backyard composter in as little as a month, unlike corn bioplastic, which requires an industrial composting facility.

She wants it to replace plastic cutlery, bags and other single-use products: