Two students from the HCM City University of Economics and Finance have made biodegradable products from potato starch in an effort to reduce the use of single-use plastic items. Nông Văn Phước and Đặng Nguyễn Xuân Trọng are fourth-year students majoring in business administration and international trade.
Phước's school launched a business idea contest early last year which the students entered. One of the goals of his group was to reduce the negative impact of plastic waste on the environment. While looking for an idea for the contest, Phước noticed female students eating mixed rice paper which looked like plastic bags. He wondered if rice paper could be used as plastic bags.
Phước and Trọng began their practice with corn and cassava starch but they did not have success. Then they discovered that starch extracted from potatoes could be used to make biodegradable bags. Potato starch is mixed with water and glycerin in a formula to create a mixture.
The students boil the mixture until thick, and then place it into moulds which are dried naturally under the sun for a day. The biodegradable bags made from potato starch are useful, but they can only store dry items. The students have also made spoons and small bowls from potato starch that can be used in cold or hot water for 30-45 minutes.
The products can be used for one year if they are stored at the proper temperature, Trọng said. “Our products easily decompose within three to five months. They are totally safe for users,” he told vietnamnews.vn.