Clara Martin Gonzalez, a 1st-year high school student at the IES Villa de Mazo, has been awarded by the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) of the Canary Islands for her work "A substitute for plastic made with resources in the Canary Islands, an ecological solution," which was directed by Professor Yuly Mary San Juan Lorenzo. “My goal is to give visibility to a new way of creating things while respecting nature and using resources that we have easily available,” Clara stated.
“Different types of biodegradable plastics have been created to generate alternatives to common plastic. This is a good starting point because we work with bananas in La Palma and we could be the surplus on the island to create biodegradable plastics. Producers from the Islands destroy the surplus of bananas so that they don't enter the market and lower prices,” Martin stated. The other method is using the pulp of the banana tree. “The fibers extracted from the banana trees have allowed researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias, through the Life Baqua project, to create different elements (cloth, fish feed...) and bags that can be used to protect the banana bunches on the farms, replacing the synthetic bags that are currently being used,” she stated.
“Biobased plastics are manufactured from biomass (the organic matter that makes up living beings), i.e. from renewable natural resources (such as plants, algae, etc.). In some cases, it is possible to produce them by using the residues.” “Using bioplastics is good for several reasons: it mitigates the environmental impact caused by conventional plastics; it helps to conserve fossil fuel reserves that are used to manufacture conventional plastics; bioplastic decompose faster; they are very hygienic because they are made with natural products; manufacturing and destroying them produces lower emission of gases when compared to traditional plastics; no non-renewable raw materials are used to produce them, and they do not modify the taste and aroma of the food they contain,” the student stated.