A New Approach To Reducing Plastic Pollution: Converting Avocado Pits into Biodegradable Plastic Straws

Plastic pollution is caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment and it can be categorized in primary plastics (bottle caps and cigarette buts) and secondary plastics (a result of degradation of the primary plastics).

Plastic pollution can take different form, such as accumulation of waste, accumulation of marine litter and fragments of plastics, waste causing death of animals by ingesting plastics objects, and arrival of microplastics from body care products.

Due to its widespread use and durability, plastic pollution poses great impact on the environment. As a matter of fact, it is currently one of the biggest environmental concerns.

Effects of Plastic Pollution                                                                        

On the environment: Plastic debris contains compounds which can be chemically transferred to organisms through ingestion. Some of these potentially toxic compounds can accumulate in the body.  Plastic bags also affect the growth of crops, by disrupting the process of photosynthesis.

On animals:  The first effect is the imprisonment of marine mammals and birds in nets or large debris and the second one is indigestion, which has an impact on the entire food chain.

On humans:  As the chemical additives used during the production of plastic, plastics have detrimental effect on human health and are associated with birth defects, impaired immunity, and some cancers.

With this being said, it is evident that something has to be done to reduce plastic pollution, and we should all cooperate.  The problem is much bigger than one person, but we should all start with ourselves and it is important to look at our own personal plastic equipment, asking ourselves ‘What am I doing to contribute to this problem?  and “What can I do to be part of the solution?

You can contribute to being part of the solution by bringing your own reusable shopping bags and avoiding single-use plastic bags, using reusable water bottles instead of buying water in plastic bottles, getting reusable glass or bamboo straws instead of plastic ones, recycle the plastics you use, return single-use bags to grocery stores for them to recycle, and more.

As you can see, there are many ways you can reduce plastic waste in your daily life, but there is still a need for a bigger change, which will involve changing the linear economy to a circular one. 

And, some companies are starting to act. Not long ago, a Mexican company BioFase launched single-use cutlery and straws that biodegrade in 240 days.  If kept in dry place, the plastic cutlery remains usable for a year, but after that, it begins to biodegrade.

As the company is based in Mexico, they can easily get their hands on avocados. Did you know that Mexico is responsible for more than 50 percent of the world`s avocado supply? This means that the country is full of avocado pits which can be turned into something advantageous. They collect avocado seeds from companies that process avocados to make oil or guacamole.

BioFase has two types of products: biodegradable and compostable. The first ones reincorporate in the environment when their shelf life is over while the second type of products must be discarded in a compost bin so that they can degrade.