From avocado pits to sustainable straws

Posted by Imogen Searra on 7 February 2019

Unlike the majority of plastics, bioplastics don’t stick around forever but instead decompose over time, thankfully for the environment.

This is because instead of petroleum, they’re made from biodegradable matter that breaks down through natural processes – and some of the materials that can be turned into bioplastic are rather surprising. Algae, corn starch, beetle shells and even milk have all been used to make ‘plastic’.

Now, an innovative company in Mexico called Biofase is transforming avocado pits into disposable bioplastic straws and cutlery.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Can you hear me now? These avocado babies are ready to guac n roll 📶📈😂 It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a photo of a home propagation project. Confession – I am completely useless at using the toothpick method to sprout avocado pits. I used the plastic bag method, which I’ve seen floating around insta lately, but I learned it originally from Ina @plantsandotherthings and this method made sprouting avocado pits SO much easier for me. Essentially you just stick your clean avocado pits in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag for a few weeks, similar to germinating any other seed. When you see a big tap root sticking out, you go ahead and suspend it in water (and if you’re me, act like they always sprouted like that 😉 If you’ve had a hard time sprouting avocados in the past, try it this way and see if you have any more luck! Don’t forget to tag me if it works for you! 🥑❤️

A post shared by Kelli Chew 🌿 (@kellichew) on

Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, with tons of pits being discarded everyday. The biomass (the pits) is therefore a renewable and very sustainable source. Biofase uses 15 tons of avocado pits everyday day for its bioplastic production.

Biofase founder Scott Munguia is a biochemical engineer who discovered a molecular compound within an avocado pit and removed it, obtaining a biopolymer that could be moulded into any shape. The entire research process took him a year and a half.

As consumers are opting for more plastic-free alternatives, this avocado-forged bioplastic has been widely celebrated. Biofase exports its products to more than 11 countries including the USA and Canada, and is the leading biopolymers producer in Latin America.

There are some bioplastic companies that still continue to use traditional plastic for making their products, but in Mexico there is a growing move both on a consumer and government level towards eradicating single-use plastics.

‘More than 15 initiatives, laws and regulations at the state and municipal levels seek to reduce the consumption of disposable plastics,’ according to Dolores Barrientos, a UN Environment representative in Mexico.

If you want to reduce your plastic waste and to switch to eco-friendly options, then read our 10 tips for living with less plastic to help you get started.

Image source: Unsplash

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