Could Mexico cactus solve world's plastics problem?
By Gabriel SERNA
Guadalajara, Mexico (AFP) Aug 7, 2019
Mexico's prickly pear cactus, which is emblazoned on the country's flag, could soon play a new and innovative role in the production of biodegradable plastics.
A packaging material that is made from the plant has been developed by a Mexican researcher and is offering a promising solution to one of the world's biggest pollution conundrums.
"The pulp is strained to obtain a juice that I then use," said Sandra Pascoe, who developed the product and works at the Atemajac Valley University in the western city of Guadalajara.
That substance is then mixed with non-toxic additives and stretched to produce sheets which are colored with pigments and folded to form different types of packaging.
"What we're doing is trying to concentrate on objects that don't have a long life," she said, particularly "single-use" packaging.
Pascoe is still conducting tests, but hopes to patent her product later this year and look for partners in early 2020, with an eye towards larger-scale production.
The cacti Pascoe uses for her experiments come from San Esteban, a small town on the outskirts of Guadalajara, where they grow by the hundreds.
San Esteban is located in Jalisco state where, starting next year, single-use non-recyclable plastic bags, straws and other disposable items will be banned.
- 'Drop in the ocean' -
Mexico City and states such as Baja California have also introduced similar measures.
In May, the capital city adopted a "historic" ban on plastic bags beginning in 2020. From 2021, straws, plastic plates and cutlery, and balloons will also be banned if they're made "entirely or partially from plastic," according to the bill adopted by the local congress.
Pascoe says her new material would be no more than a "drop in the ocean" in the battle to preserve the environment.
Given the rampant production of industrial plastics and the time it takes to make her material, there would need to be "other recycling strategies" to make any concrete difference, she said.
Latin America and the Caribbean account for around 10 percent of worldwide waste, according to United Nations figures.
In March, UN member states committed to "significantly reduce" single-use plastics over the next decade, although green groups warned that goal fell short of tackling the Earth's pollution crisis.
Plastic pollution has become a global concern, particularly after bans imposed by China and other countries on the import of plastic waste from overseas.
Despite widespread alarm on the environmental cost, Asia and the United States lifted world production of plastic last year while Europe saw a dip, according to numbers released by the PlasticsEurope federation in June.
More than eight million tons of plastics enter the world's oceans every year.
NUS 'smart' textiles boost connectivity between wearable sensors by 1,000 times
Singapore (SPX) Jul 22, 2019
Over the past decade, a major trend in electronics has been the development of sensors, displays and smart devices which are seamlessly integrated onto the human body. Most of these wearable devices are singularly connected to a user's smart phone and transmit all data via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals. But as consumers wear increasing numbers of wearable devices, and as the data they transmit increases in sophistication, more innovative connection methods are being sought after. Now, researchers fro ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.|