Teen Invents Biodegradable “Plastic” That Decomposes In 33 Days Using Prawn Shells And Silk Cocoon Protein

How would you solve the problem with plastic pollution? Angelina Arora is here to teach you a lesson.

The Australian teen found a way to get rid of all the plastic in this world. Angelina made biodegradable material from prawn shells. Maybe this was the material we needed to ditch all the plastic.

The new plastic will decompose in 33 days, and this brilliant invention brought Angelina the BHP Science and Engineering Award. The young inventor was also named the Australian Geographic Society’s Young Conservationist of the Year.

Angelina’s plastic attracted the attention of many companies, and we may see it on the market in the near future. Hopefully, people would opt to use something like this instead of plastic.

This type of plastic is cheap and flexible. It’s versatile and its durability allows you to do so many things.

Angelina used a protein from a silk cocoon and a substance from prawn shells. She first used it as a medical packaging, because she is a medical student.

So, how did Angelina come across this idea? Her parents were spending money on plastic. Most of that plastic ends up in our water and soil. Angelina wanted to make a change, and she tried really hard to succeed.

Banana peels and cornstarch are some of the materials she used. A simple prawn dinner made a difference. She noticed that the shells have a plastic texture.

“For a school science project, I made a plastic bag out of corn-starch, but it didn’t work because it was soluble in water, which would mean we’d have our groceries end up on the floor and it would also mean taking away precious food sources,” the teen explained.

“That’s when I was at the fish and chip shop getting prawns for dinner and noticed that the prawn shells looked like plastic. I went back to the lab and thought about what exactly made them look like that.”

In the first stage of her experiment, Angelina extracted carbohydrate chitin from prawn shells. In stage two, she turned carbs into chitosan. Angelina combined chitosan with fibroin, an insoluble protein from silkworms. The final result was brilliant.

“It’s the same protein that spiders use to make webs. It’s very sticky. When you mix it with chitin it produces a fabric that is flexible and strong and exhibits all the properties you want in plastic.”

The Marine Stewardship Council observed 1000 participants aged 18-24 through a study by YouGov. All of them were worried about marine life and the detrimental effect of plastic.

Anne Gabriel of Marine Stewardship Council explains that we need to protect oceans because they are the only source of wild food we have at the moment.

Angelina made a difference, and it’s up to us to follow her example. We need to stop using plastic. There are so many alternatives. Stop buying single-use plastic items. You can do better than that.