Every year, about 500 billion single-use plastic bags are being used. If broken down, this means a million bags every minute worldwide or 150 bags a year for every single person on Earth. If you put all these plastic together, it would be able to circumnavigate the globe by 4,200 times. With that said, the world needs a plastic alternative.
Based on these distressing statistics, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there are about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in our oceans. Based on that number, about 269,000 tons float on the surface. Around four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer are found in the deep sea.
According to one study, the use of single-use plastic around the world is speeding up climate change and it should be stopped as soon as possible. The continuous use of plastic is likely to affect the attempt to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. By 2050, plastic will make up for 13% of the total “carbon budget” around the globe.
If humans wish to stop fuelling the climate change epidemic, there needs to be an alternative to plastic. There should be a sustainable substitute that can be used instead of plastics that just end up as trash after serving their purpose.
One of the most interesting options that have been discovered is the use of the banana leaves. Through the banana leaf technology, there can be a viable replacement for disposable plastics that is environment-friendly.
Most biomaterials including banana leaves degenerate within a matter of three days. Instead of discarding them as waste, these can be transformed into a biodegradable substitute to paper and plastics.
To transform the banana leaves, it goes through a cellular eco-friendly technology that preserves it for a year without the use of any chemicals. Apart from banana leaves, the same technology can be used on other organic biomaterials.
This technology enhances the physical properties of the leaves. It increases their durability, crushability, and stretchability. It can also resist extreme temperatures. The technology allows the leaves to hold more weight than their original state, making the banana leaves the ideal plastic alternative.
The banana leaf technology enhances and strengthens the cell walls of the leaves and stops pathogenic agents from destroying these cells. The result is a processed biomaterial that is healthy, biodegradable, eco-friendly, human-friendly, and pathogenic resistant. This usable replacement for plastic can help prevent the destruction of up to seven billion trees yearly.
The processed biomaterial that is made from banana leaves is cost-effective and chemical-free. It is 100% biodegradable. When it is discarded, it goes back into nature after 28 days. Compare this to plastics that stay in nature for 10 to 1,000 years.
A move to make use of this plastic alternative can be part of the urgent action to fight climate change. It can help prevent the death of about 200 million aquatic and land animals. It can save millions of trees and it can drive humans to save the environment.
The development of banana leaf technology is all thanks to Tenith Adithyaa. He is a young innovation scholar from India. He has managed to turn the banana leaves, which are used in food medium and food packaging in the Asian region, into a sustainable environmental solution to the plastic crisis that the world is facing.
This innovative, economical, and eco-friendly technology has been recognized locally and internationally. It has received two national awards and seven international awards including the International Green Technology Award, International Environmental Award, and the Technology for the Future Award.