How cool is this! Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable “plastic” from the juice of the prickly pear cactus. The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in just a matter of days. Actually breaks down by all accounts – most biodegradable stuff can’t claim to in the real world.
Look we’re pretty dubious about a single plant creating plastics (a la PLA from corn and all the problems with monocrops). There are many problems with it along with the fact many are pretty terrible for our environment too.
We’re a tiny bit more enthusiastic about a different range of more sustainable plants being able to provide solutions to the plastics that are necessary (not single-use convenience which needs to be eliminated where possible and practical). If we can manage these sustainably, across a variety of plants, with low environment footprint (not converting mass amounts of land for example), recycling where possible and lower in energy, we’re in for idea like this!