Have you ever looked around and observed that plastic is all around you whether it is the plate in which you eat, the shopping bag in which you bring grocery or the toys your children play with. But when the same plastic is discarded after being used, it does not decompose in a year or two rather it takes several hundred years to it to break down.
One Pakistani has found a solution to this problem and prepared such a plastic which is not even biodegradable but it is edible as well.
Environmentally friendly plastic
The creator of edible plastic in Pakistan, Assistant Prof Dr Anjum Nawab of Food and Science Department, the University of Karachi, told BBC Urdu that in simple words a biodegradable is something when it is discarded is easily eaten up by the germs present in environment.
She said if something could be eaten by bacterial germs then it could also be eaten by humans. She said since the plastic was manufactured through grains therefore it was edible. She said the plastic could even be discarded by dissolving it in lukewarm water.
“In contrary to the environment-friendly plastic, the plastic prepared through petrochemicals cannot be eaten by the bacterial germs present in the environment and the things prepared from them create environmental pollution,” she said.
Environmentally enemy plastic
According to an estimate, every year 300 million ton plastic was increasing and out of them about 50 percent was used just once.
Environment expert Dr Waqar Ahmed said Karachi, which is counted among the world’s biggest cities, produces 15,000 tons garbage and more than 50 percent of this trash was plastic in the form of plastic bottles, shopping bags and styrofoam. He said some of the trash was buried in landfill sites, while the rest of it reached ocean through drains and streams. This ended up in becoming food for fish and then was transferred into humans through food chain, he added.
How’s edible plastic produced
Anjum Nawaz said her PhD thesis was on plastic prepared from wastes of grains for packaging of food items.
“It was mango season then, so I thought why not I experiment on creating edible plastic through mango seed,” she said.
There’s abundance of mango production in Pakistan and the waste produced from processing plants was not used for anything but animal’s food.
The doctor said in preparation of plastic, starch was extracted from mango seed and then different ingredients were added into it to give it the form of plastic.
She said efforts were being made in different countries to prepare edible/ biodegradable plastic, but the plastic prepared at the KU was different from the rest of them because it was made from mango seed.
The assistant professor said her work was appreciated at international level as well after her research was published in international research journals. She said her creation could widely be used in manufacturing different products.