"Monumental Step": Scientists Create Biodegradable Microplastics

Microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

'Monumental Step': Scientists Create Biodegradable Microplastics

These biodegradable polymers were created six years ago, said researchers.

Researchers have created a plant-based polymer that biodegrades at microplastic level. It has been described as a monumental step toward resolving the persistent issue of plastic pollution. The research has been carried out by the University of California San Diego, in collaboration with Algenesis. According to earth.com, the discovery not only addresses the pressing environmental challenge posed by traditional plastics and microplastics but also signals a new age of eco-friendly materials. It says that the polymers can completely biodegrade in less than seven months.

"An attractive solution to mitigate the environmental impact of microplastics is to develop plastics that do not generate persistent microplastics as part of their normal life cycle," the authors wrote in the study.

Professor Michael Burkart and Professor Robert Pomeroy, the co-founders of Algenesis, said they created these polymers six years ago.

"We're just starting to understand the implications of microplastics. We've only scratched the surface of knowing the environmental and health impacts. We're trying to find replacements for materials that already exist, and make sure these replacements will biodegrade at the end of their useful life instead of collecting in the environment. That's not easy," said Professor Burkart said in the study.

"We had plenty of data to suggest that our material was disappearing in the compost, but this is the first time we've measured it at the microparticle level," said Professor Pomeroy.

According to National Geographic, microplastics are extremely small pieces of plastic debris in the environment resulting from the disposal and breakdown of consumer products and industrial waste.

Officially, they are defined as plastics less than five millimetres (0.2 inches) in diametre - smaller than the standard pearl used in jewellery.

As pollutants, microplastics can be harmful to the environment and animal health.

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