Plastic is found everywhere, even in places that you may never think of like the Mariana trench. Plastic continues to pollute the environment, and it poses a significant threat to all life forms on Earth. And there is nothing we can do about it. Our every measure to stop the use of plastic especially in the form of plastic bags has failed miserably. Despite knowing the ecological, eco-toxicological, and economic effects of plastic pollution, we have not been able to ban the use of plastic products.
but now we finally have something that can be made useful, thanks to the invention of a 17-year-old girl, we finally have a much better alternative. This plastic-like material is made from prawn shells, and it decomposes 1.5 million times faster than most of the commercial plastic products we use today.
Angelina Arora, from Adelaide, was inspired to tackle the plastic waste problem at a young age. The Australian teen has invented a landfill compostable plastic made from Prawn Shells.
The Aussie teen while shopping with her mother at the local supermarket, wondered why her mother had to pay for the plastic carry bags. When she asked, the cashier informed her that plastic hurts the planet and that the additional charge was there to discourage people from using it. This inspired Arora to create a biodegradable alternative that would decompose much faster than conventional plastic.
Then she went on experimenting with a number of organic materials such as cornstarch and banana peels, but both ruled out because of their solubility. One night, while having dinner, she noticed that the shells of prawns look plasticky. She wondered what caused it and immediately went to the lab to research. Later, she would describe that dinner as her “Eureka” moment.
She extracted the carbohydrate called “chitin” from the shells and used chemicals to turn it into chitosan. She then mixed it with an insoluble protein called “fibroin,” which is found in silk cocoons. Using the combination of these two organic materials, Arora created a plastic-like material that breaks down completely within just 33 days. And on top of that, this plastic releases nitrogen when decomposing, which is why it can be used as mulch or plant fertilizer.
She has won a number of awards and competitions for her invention. Arora is currently trying to figure out the legalities involved in manufacturing her product on a commercial level.