Today’s Solutions: February 05, 2023

When a cotton gin is used to separate cotton fibers from their seeds, a lot of lint is produced as a waste product. In fact, approximately 32 million tons of cotton lint is produced annually, with about a third of that simply being burnt or put in landfills.

Thanks to recent research out of Australia, however, it may soon be converted into biodegradable plastic. To do this, the researchers developed a system in which inexpensive environmentally-friendly chemicals are used to dissolve lint fibers, along with other ginning trash such as seeds and stems. The resulting liquid organic polymer is then used to create a plastic film.

That material harmlessly biodegrades after being placed in the earth, and could conceivably be used within the cotton-farming industry, for applications such as bale wrap or packaging for seeds and fertilizer. It may even become one part of a full-cycle agricultural process. And as an added benefit, the plastic film is reportedly less costly to manufacture than similar petroleum-based products.

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