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Brazilian innovation: learn about bioplastic made from banana peels

Tuesday June 25th, 2024

Brazilian researchers from Embrapa Instrumentação (SP) and the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) took a significant step in the field of bioplastics. The novelty is the creation of a biodegradable film made from banana peels that promises to revolutionize the packaging industry. The simplicity of the process and the sustainability of the development attract the market’s attention.

Using only water or a diluted acid solution for pre-treatment, scientists completely transformed banana peels into bioplastics. These films not only have antioxidant properties and protection against UV radiation, but they also outperform many bioplastics produced by more complex and expensive methods.

The motivation for this project came from the need to reduce waste generated by banana processing, which currently results in a large amount of underused or inappropriately discarded peels. Research shows that each ton of processed bananas can generate up to 417 kg of peels, creating a significant environmental problem.

Chemical engineer Rodrigo Duarte Silva, who developed the film during his post-doctorate, highlighted the importance of taking advantage of the bioactive compounds present in the peel, such as phenolics and pectin, to produce a biodegradable and useful material. Embrapa researcher Henriette Monteiro Cordeiro de Azeredo explained that the film, despite still being on a laboratory scale, showed promise as primary packaging for products susceptible to oxidation.

The researchers’ next steps include improving the film’s interaction with water and developing the bioplastic on a pilot scale, aiming to make the process more industrially viable within a year and a half. This innovation not only values ​​agri-food waste, but also offers a sustainable alternative to the use of conventional plastics, reaffirming the innovation capacity and environmental commitment of Brazilian scientists.

Source: Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA)


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