Our world is drowning in plastic yet we’re so dependent on it, that despite the urgency to avoid it, we don’t have very many alternatives. For food packaging especially, plastic is king and Americans are using a lot of plastic every day probably without realizing it. While biodegradable plastic does exist, it’s often far more expensive, uses food crops for production, and sometimes even contains petroleum-based plastic due to misleading claims. That’s why a Mexican startup decided to make better bioplastics and found an innovative way to deal with the tons of avocado pits that producers discard every day. As Eco Watch reported, Michoacan-based Biofase, located in the heart of Mexico’s avocado industry, is transforming the dense seeds into disposable drinking straws and cutlery that are said to be 100 percent biodegradable.
The company was founded in 2013 by biochemical engineer Scott Munguia, who patented a process to turn discarded avocado pits into bioplastics that reportedly degrade after 240 days. As Mexico Daily News explained, Munguia figured out how to extract a molecular compound from a pit to obtain a biopolymer that could be molded into any shape. Today, the operation goes through 15 metric tons of avocado seeds a day to make the items and the technology is a win-win that tackles agricultural waste as well as the mounting volumes of plastic waste accumulating in landfills, oceans and other bodies of water.
Why This Matters: Since many cities have started to ban straws and other single-use plastics, we need alternatives as it’s unrealistic to expect all people to carry a reusable straw and fork with them at all time. However with bioplastics, we have to ensure that we don’t just adopt them and call it a day as in order for them to biodegrade, they must be sent to a commercial composting facility which few American municipalities offer to their customers. In order to truly wean our addiction of plastic, we must think about the infrastructure necessary to achieve this. As in the case of Oregon’s bottle recovery program, local and state governments can see a lot of success if they invest in closed-loop systems and get the buy-in of their citizens.
Go Deeper: Avocados are one of the thirstiest crops and unfortunately, they tend to grow in warm, drought-prone parts of the world. This is a PSA to eat your avocados and not let them go to waste, here are some tips to help keep them from ripening too quickly.