Tableware can come in any color, but these new pieces are all “green". Made entirely from the waste of sugarcane and bamboo, this design could replace plastic waste in the future. In contrast to normal plastic polymers, which take around 450 years to break down and degrade, these alternatives will take only 60 days to return to dirt. With these bowls as the new normal, the world may have a better chance at moving forward.
Corresponding author Hongli (Julie) Zhu of Northeastern University was shocked that there weren't better alternatives long before she and her team made the innovation ."To be honest, the first time I came to the US in 2007, I was shocked by the available one-time use plastic containers in the supermarket. It makes our life easier, but meanwhile, it becomes waste that cannot decompose in the environment," she said.
The plastic alternative is made using a weave of long and thin bamboo fibers with short and thick bagasse fibers. Eventually, the two blends together to create a durable structure that can still break down if needed. After two months in the dirt, the structure breaks down and completely loses shape. Zhu is confident in the future of the product, saying "I believe one of the good solutions is to use more sustainable materials, to use biodegradable materials to make these one-time use containers."