Science 3 min read

Green Science Alliance Makes Biodegradable Cutlery Using Plastic Waste

This new form of biodegradable cutlery could be immensely helpful in the fight to reduce plastic waste. ¦ Pawarun Chitchirachan / Shutterstock

This new form of biodegradable cutlery could be immensely helpful in the fight to reduce plastic waste. ¦ Pawarun Chitchirachan / Shutterstock

First announced in 2018, the Green Science Alliance worked to develop this plastic alternative for quite some time. The company developed a biomass as derived from nano-cellulose composite material using plastic waste.

Natural biomass such as trees, waste woods, plants, and paper scrap fuel the plastic alternative. Due to its raw components, the material is recyclable and biodegradable. It can also be obtained at a low cost which has previously been a blocker in plastic waste reduction.

The biomaterial weighs just 1/5 of what steel weighs but comes with 5x the strength. It also has a low thermal expansion coefficient similar to glass fiber. Surprisingly, however, it maintains a higher elasticity modulus, too.

What all this means is that it is harder, better, stronger, and more resistant to deformation during any plastic molding process. Furthermore, mixing the nano-cellulose material with traditional plastics can introduce some biodegradability to them.

So what’s the deal with the Nano Sakura plastic waste cutlery then?

Using Product Diversity to Encourage Ethical Industrialization

The Green Science Alliance calls themselves a chemical company that researches and develops advanced materials. Their focus centers around environmental science and energy innovations. As such, others can use the materials they create for a variety of industries and uses such as:

  • Quantum dots
  • Infrared light shielding or absorbing materials
  • Thermoelectric devices
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Fuel cells
  • Nano-sized particles
  • Artificial photosynthesis
  • Capacitors

And, of course, naturally derived materials such as cellulose nanofiber.

Based in Japan, the company serves a global market with its cutting edge technology. The Japanese heritage influenced the name given to this new invention called Nano Sakura.

Using the biodegradable, biomass-based material they developed, the Green Science Alliance further produced its first prototype with the material.

Though the product doesn’t involve flowers, the biomass used to create it does. So the company decided to call it “nano” as a nod to the material, as well as including “Sakura”. A sakura is a type of Japanese flower, so it fits in nicely with the reference.

Why Plastic Waste Motivated Innovation

The company released a new statement regarding the Nano Sakura production on March 11, 2019. In the statement, the Green Science Alliance detailed how they produced the cutlery and why they felt empowered to do so.

The company had already been selling the nano-cellulose composite with other biodegradable plastics. But new data about the amount of plastic waste inspired a new vision as the press release read:

“It is predicted that the amount of plastic garbage may become 850 – 950 million tons by 2050 whereas the amount of fish will be 812 – 899 million tons, so that amount of garbage will be more than that of fish in the world. “

Motivated by this call to action, Dr. Ryohei Mori decided to prototype cutlery including knives, spoons, and forks.

The company injected molding with a PLA (polylactic acid) and their nano-cellulose composite. You can see the result above which strongly resembles traditional plastic utensils.

The company plans to expand into creating other traditionally plastic and one-time-use items including:

  • food trays and boxes
  • straws
  • shopping bags
  • plastic containers

Since they are also looking for business partners, perhaps other big names in consumer products or even the food industry will step up. The plastic waste situation, as we have covered in previous articles, certainly needs to be addressed.

Read More: How Bioplastics Will Solve our Plastic Epidemic

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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