On Sunday, COP26 began in Glasgow, Scotland. The theme of adaptation and resilience calls on the world to find new ways to adapt to climate issues and be innovative enough to get past ecological contaminants. In the past century, contaminants such as plastic turned the world upside down. Plastic litters the Earth and contributes to carbon emissions.
As delegates at COP26 negotiate possible ways to tackle the climate crisis, scientists have some solutions. Scientists from Aalto University in Finland are working on bio-based degradable materials that could replace plastic. FoamWood, a light and durable wood-based foam, and an oil-based liquid known as DipWrap are being experimented on for use in different areas.
FoamWood is being championed to replace bubble wrap and other types of plastic used in packaging. On the other hand, DipWrap can be used to make a transparent film that can be safely washed off. This material could be used to package vegetables and other grocery products.
Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen of Aalto University emphasizes finding bio-based solutions to replace plastic. “Our material world needs to change radically, and new bio-based material sources, efficient material recycling systems and emerging biotechnologies offer solutions for the transformation,” Kääriäinen said. “There are no simple solutions to the complicated material-related problems, but as plenty of research is going on, I am confident that we’ll see a broad array of feasible solutions in coming years.”
Scientists are also exploring Flower Matter, an approach that turns waste flowers into leather, paper, or packing foam. Petals from flowers are processed to give the materials natural vibrant colors. With over 40% of commercial flowers discarded before reaching consumers, Flower Matter could stop waste flowers from ending up in landfills. Bio-materials like this could help stop plastics from littering oceans, lakes, rivers and land.
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