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Edible water bottles could reduce plastic waste

Plastic waste

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(NaturalNews) Plastics, many of which are plastic bottles for juices, sodas, and water have created a huge planetary ecological disposal problem. Americans use an estimated 50 billion of these disposable plastic bottles annually. And they're made from around 1.5 million gallons of crude oil each year.

From a 2006 United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) report: Over 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of ocean today. In the Central Pacific, there are up to 6 pounds of marine litter to every pound of plankton.

Granted, this litter is in tiny pieces, as it breaks down. Sometimes it's even hard to notice from a ship or boat. But those tiny pieces are composed of toxic materials that threaten the biodiversity of the ocean's marine life.

As mentioned in a recent Natural News article by this writer, there's a lot of litter on the ocean floors, and most of it is plastic. The stuff on the surface is bad enough. As those surface plastics degrade and break down, their toxic plastic residue threatens plankton, an important aspect of marine life that converts carbon dioxide to oxygen in our atmosphere.

But a lot of it sinks to the ocean floor as microplastics that threaten marine life in various ways (http://www.naturalnews.com).

What to do about it

A recent invention that grabbed headlines on science publications and media science sections was a weird edible plastic water bottle. This invention has a long way to go before it can be considered a viable, marketable solution.

Currently, it's limited in size and lacks the mechanics for sealing it with a cap or some sort of plug. And thus far the human testing has had mixed results.

Some say it reminds them of breast implants, and others say it's like holding a jellyfish. Hard to swig from that while driving around, eh?

The container itself is easily edible, especially if artificially flavored or spiked with MSG (sarcasm). It was inspired by an earlier model of edible floating containers made by a process called "spherification" used by world-renowned Spanish chef Albert y Ferran Adria (http://www.albertyferranadria.com).

A group of designers led by Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez at the Imperial College London have developed what they call the "Ooho water container" using the "spherification" technique. Instead of creating a bottle and then filling it with water, Gonzalez used a process that allows the bottle to take shape as it coalesces around the liquid.

Gonzalez and his team started with a frozen ball of water, then dipped it into a calcium chloride solution, forming a gelatinous layer. Then the ball was soaked in another solution made from brown algae extract, encapsulating the ice in a second squishy membrane to reinforce the structure.

The longer the water sits in the algae solution, the stronger and thicker the spherical structure. Gonzalez points out that the "main point in manipulating the water as solid ice during the encapsulation is to make it possible to get bigger spheres and allow the calcium and algae to stay exclusively in the membrane." But even the bigger spheres are small.

The issue of finding a way to transport these small containers and have them on store shelves is another problem demanding solutions. There is a recent yogurt product from Stonyfield that uses edibles to deliver yogurt balls. The designers think that may offer or inspire a solution. The public's not very keen on drinking from small slippery edible globules.

Yes, this proposal for solving the world's plastic pollution problem has many obstacles. But there is a solution that's currently available to produce actual bottles or whatever that are biodegradable.

Instead of all these issues, why not use what's available to make real bottles in any sizes that are strong and durable yet biodegradable? That's what hemp offers (http://www.hempplastic.com).

The fibers from hemp stalk are what are used to make plastic. This eliminates petroleum with chemical additives for plastic containers. They will degrade without harming the environment and provide useable bottles that consumers are used to.

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