Scientists Turn Cotton Waste into Bioplastic

Deakin University, Australias scientist has discovered a method of utilizing cotton gin waste to create a biodegradable material which can replace plastic. The team of textile and fiber scientist lead by Doctor Maryam Naebe successfully produces bioplastic from seeds, short stems, leaves and other by-products of cotton ginning.

In her statement, Dr. Naebe said, 29 million tons of cotton lint is produced every year, most of it ends up as trash in the landfills or is burnt. That’s a lot of material going to waste. Using cotton waste as a raw material for bioplastic will become another stream of income for the farmers and cotton growers. Additionally, it will replace the harmful synthetic plastic.

Ph.D. Candidate Abu Naser MD Ahsanul Haque, along with Associate Research Fellow Dr. Rechana Remadevi under the lead of Dr. Naebe has been working on the project for the last 18 months.

For the project the team dissolved cotton waste in environmentally friendly chemicals, the polymer thus recovered was then cast into a bioplastic film. This material has a number of uses, it can be used as packaging for cotton bales, bale wrap, and fertilizer.

And that’s not the only use of bioplastic made from cotton gin trash. As Dr. Naebe said, the biopolymer made from breaking down cotton gin waste can be converted into a wide range of biodegradable materials. The product made from bioplastic is totally degradable and will become a good fertilizer once mixed with the soil.

Bioplastic is much recommended and safer for the environment, it doesn’t require any harmful chemicals to process. The process of producing bioplastic from cotton waste on a large scale will be quite cheap and safe and it will contribute to the circular economy.

“The bioplastic can biodegrade and turn into soil, the soil will be used to grow cotton, the cotton crop will again produce the cotton gin trash during ginning. And the waster will again be used to produce the bioplastic,” explained Dr. Maryam Naebe.

The research team is now trying to apply the process of making bioplastic to other organic and plant waste materials. Materials such as lemongrass, wood shavings, sawdust, hemp, almond shells, wheat straw, etc.

The Deakin University IFM is Australia’s most recognized institute, researching on alternate material and working to address major challenges faced by humans societies through innovative research in the field of material and design.

Maryam Kishwer

Maryam is a creative person at heart, Jack of all trades and master of none, but she prefers it that way. Mom to two amazing boys, a wanderers soul, dreamy-eyed painter, an early morning Yogi, and a writer.

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