A winning idea: Biodegradable alternatives to plastic

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: April 13th, 2018

EARTH University student Edison Doylet (’18, Ecuador) is one step closer to bringing his dream of a plastic-free world to life. As a winner of the Caribbean region’s qualifying round at the Seedstars Costa Rica by PROCOMER pitch competition, he earned $1,000 in seed funding to execute his project “An Ecological Alternative to the Use of Synthetic Plastics” along with the chance to compete at nationals on September 25.

Photo: PROCOMER

Photo: PROCOMER

The alternative Edison is promoting utilizes a mixture of vegetable wastes – such as rice hulls, sugarcane husks, banana fibers or coconut shells – and Ganoderma lucidum mushrooms. The resulting material is capable of holding together for long periods of time, even when confronted with humidity, physical stress or other complicating conditions. Once molded into shape, it has potential for use in takeout containers and shipping boxes. Once soiled, it biodegrades in approximately six months, making it ideal for easy composting.

Edison was inspired to pursue this project because it “addresses a far-reaching problem. Often, plastic items are only used for a few seconds or minutes, and we don’t consider where they go afterward.”

Yet, we all know where they eventually end up: the world’s oceans. Around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter global waters each year. Over time, they break down into smaller pieces (called microplastics) that end up in animal digestive tracks and even in human food and water supplies.

The world needs innovators. If you have an idea for a project or socially minded business, register for the regional Seedstars competition nearest you.