Plastics are ubiquitous. It is stated that the consumption rate of plastic in India is around 11 kgs per head, which may increase by about 20 kgs per head by 2050. India and other developing countries have played a vital role in the manufacturing and distribution of plastics. Plastic usage has escalated over the years because of its unique characteristics such as lightweight nature, low cost and water resisting property.
Cucumber can reduce plastic pollution, for we can make it into biodegradable packaging material.
Is this possible with cucumber?
A team from IIT Kharagpur has discovered a biodegradable packaging material from the cucumber peels, which ends up as waste. Still, the single-use plastic is used in food packaging item because of some essential features like strength, elongation, barrier property, the optical property which are not satisfied by the natural biopolymers. The team is contented as it generates the cucumber peels in large volume. It also states that cucumber generates 12% of residual waste.
But they came up with a fantastic idea.
According to the team, the cucumber peels are rich in cellulose level when compared to other vegetable peels. The cellulose Nanocrystals from cucumber peel is the primary source in manufacturing packaging material. This cellulose has low oxygen permeability. Celluloses, hemicelluloses, pectin from the cucumber peel are processed into an innovative biomaterial resulting in nanofillers.
It results in better biodegradability and bio-compatibility.
The primary source is peel waste, which reduces the waste dumped.
It also provides all the properties like the non-degradable plastics.
Why plastics are a problem?
As per the proverb, “Too much of anything is good for nothing” the overuse of plastic has resulted in immense vulnerable effects on the environment. The causes of plastic pollution are improper disposal, burning of plastics. Some effects of plastic pollution are:
- Plastics are non-degradable products, so dumping of plastic into the land affects the ecological balance.
- Throwing of plastic cups and covers into the sea causes marine life imbalance and issues.
- Burning of plastics is toxic, leading to pollution and other problems.
Nowadays lots of efforts have been taken to reduce the effect of plastic pollution by,
- Banning the production and usage of plastic
- Recycling plastic waste
- Encouraging the use and production of Bioplastics.
The team has paved the way for sustainable growth through this research. This innovative packaging material can be used without harming the environment and other well beings.
It has proved the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Written By: Angeline Sylvia