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Production of Biodegradable Plastics from Squash Starch

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Due to the overwhelming demand of plastic bag production and its effects on our environment, our landfills are crammed with these non-biodegradable materials. Substances used in the manufacturing brought forth various harmful chemicals which worsen over time. As the destructive compounds such as Chlorofluorocarbons were introduced, the complete deprivation of the Ozone Layer starts. However, scientists and nature preservers alike managed to overthrow this hazard, but not entirely. To compensate for the damages, eco products were released. These are the most commonly made of recycled and/or natural organic materials. They utilize nature’s abundant supplies to create a replica or substitute for our plastics. One example would be the “Biodegradable plastic bags” made from the starch of the Cassava plant (Manihot esculent). The new plastic has been able to capture the interests of buyers, enabling it to advocate the benefits and obvious effects one can receive from using an eco-friendly product. To further elaborate the example, scientist and researches aim to discover another substitute for this product and perhaps develop a completely new one along the way.

Current findings are apparently still limited to the actual Cassava ingredient. Today’s plastics are designed with little consideration for their ultimate disposability or recyclability. This has resulted in mounting worldwide concerns over the environmental consequences of such materials when they enter the waste stream after their intended uses, Of particular concern are polymers used in single use, disposable plastic applications. Plastics are strong, light-weight, inexpensive, easily process able and energy efficient. They have excellent barrier properties. They are disposable, and very durable.

However, it is these very attributes of strength and indestructibility that cause problems when these materials enter the waste stream. They are not readily broken down by the natural elements in the environment or in waste management infrastructures such as composting to become a part of the biological carbon cycle of our ecosystem. This results in an irreversible build-up of these materials in the environment causing scaring of landscapes, fouling of beaches, and posing a serious hazard to marine life. Plastics are resistant to biological degradation because microorganisms do not have enzymes capable of degrading and utilizing most man made polymers. In addition, the hydrophobic character of plastics inhibits enzyme activity and the low surface area of plastics with their inherent high molecular weight further compounds the problem.

Review of related literature
The word plastic came from the Greek word plastikos, meaning capable of being molded. Plastics can be as hard as metal or as soft as silk. They can take any shape in almost any form due to the versatility of the carbon, the most common backbone of polymer chains. Plastics can be conveniently divided into two categories: semi-synthetic, in which the basic chain structure is derived from a natural product, such as cellulose; and synthetic, which is built up chemically from small units or monomers. Despite the various applications of plastics, drawbacks have been encountered in three major points. Firstly, there are certain chemicals used in the manufacture of .plastics that may cause allergic reactions. Three is a need man from these threat. Secondly, since cellulose films are biodegradable; they are readily attacked by bacteria. Films and packaging materials from synthetic polymers are normally attacked at a very low rate. New polymers such is nylon, polyvinylchloride and Polystyrene have replaced cellulose, the pioneer plastic material. As a result, these plastic materials have become permanent wastes.

There ‘are various methods in making biodegradable plastics. The simplest is the production of plastic from the extraction of casein from milk. Casein is obtained in two ways by souring, with the use of lactic acid, arid by boiling together with an additive, such as acetic acid.

Starch is a natural organic polymer manufactured by green plants through photosynthesis s to serve as metabolic reserve It occurs in the form of grains in many ‘parts of the plant, principally in embryonic tissues such as seeds, fruits, roots and tubers.

Polyvinyl alcohol is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, thermoplastic synthetic resin. It is usually used for grease-proofing paper, in adhesives, in gas- and oil-impervious films and Coatings. This substance, although soluble in water, is insoluble in Common organic solvents.

Glycerol is the simplest trihydric alcohol. In commercial form, it is called glycerin. It is a colorless odorless and viscous liquid with a sweet taste. It is completely soluble in water and alcohol but is only slightly soluble in many common solvents, such as ether, ethyl acetate and dioxane. It is widely used in coatings and paints, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Plastic production is relatively new technology. Experiments are being conducted to relieve the negative effects ‘of overproducing plastics. By changing its raw materials and additives, commercial plastic may be improved so that it will become degradable while retaining its good quality.

Statement of the problem
This study aims to determine what other plants can be used to substitute the Cassava in the production of Biodegradable Plastic Bags in terms of starch content and durability. Specifically, the study aims to achieve the following objectives: 1. To search for the plants with the same or similar starch content as the Cassava. 2. To determine if the plant starch is durable enough to be compared against mass produced “Oxo biodegradable” plastics.

Significance of the study

Scope and Delimination

Research Methodology
The first step done by the researchers is the peeling of one half kilo of squash. It was then chopped. Next, the squash was boiled by the researchers using a casserole with 1.25 liters of water. After about 20 minutes of boiling, the squash was soaked and place in a bowl. It was then grinded using a spoon. The starch on it was extracted a Muslim cloth. The juice/extract was separated from the starch and was placed on the remaining two bowls. One fourth kilo of starch was produced. After that, the starch was set on a fiber glass. It was flattened and the top layer was covered with plastic cover. It was then dried under the sun. After about 7 hours of sun drying, the starch was removed from the fiber glass. Same treatment was also done for the screen. The experiment was done repeatedly so as to test if it will obtain same results.

Definition of Terms
Biodegradable plastics – are plastics that can be biologically broken down, in a reasonable amount of time, into their base compounds. Polymer – is a chemical compound or mixture of compounds consisting of repeating structural units created through a process of polymerization.[2] The term derives from the ancient Greek word πολύς (polus, meaning “many, much”) and μέρος (meros, meaning “parts”), and refers to a molecule whose structure is composed of multiple repeating units, from which originates a characteristic of high relative molecular mass and attendant properties

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