16-year-old girl creates bioplastic from banana peels

March 4, 2016

Elif Bilgin is a 16-year-old ‘scientist’ whose curiosity and desire to change the world led her to develop an interest in environmental issues in her hometown: Istanbul, Turkey. Being in contact with a lot of pollution, Elif knew she had to to something about it and started looking for an alternative way to make plastic, without using oil, which is extremely harmful to the environment. After about two years of research and many failed attempts, she finally reached the goal of creating a bio-plastic from banana peels.

[Image Source: Elif Bilgin]

“My aim was to develop a method for using banana peels in the production of bio-plastic as a replacement for the traditional petroleum based plastic. The reason why I chose this particular aspect of science is that the bio-plastic is such a new concept and its range of use has been widening ever since it has been discovered (especially in the 21st century).The bio-plastic is a material which has the potential of causing a biological reform by means of reducing the amount of pollution caused by other plastic materials which contain petroleum derivatives,” she explains on her website.

[Image Source: Elif Bilgin]

This material, unlike plastic made from oil, is made from produce (in this case, banana peels). It is biodegradable, cheaper, it comes from a renewable source, and emits between 0.8 and 3.2 tons of carbon dioxide less than conventional plastic, and is just as rigid and versatile. The method developed by Elif used banana peels – a fruit that contains a lot of starch – as raw material. The fact that it uses the peel, not the fruit itself, makes the plastic even more eco-friendly by using what most people would throw away.

This material, as indicated by its young creator, may have many uses, such as cable insulation. In addition, it is very simple to manufacture, so it could be made at home. This great invention, which won Science in Action for 2013 and the 2013 International Google Science Fair Inspired Idea, is just the beginning of the career of this young entrepreneur who points out that in the future she would like to do more projects related to the environment, and that her biggest dream is to build a greenhouse from waste materials.

SEE ALSO: Brazilian researchers turn fruit into edible plastic


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