USask researchers create biodegradable glitter to fight microplastics | PKBNEWS

Glitter is a big part of the holiday season. It is used in gift wrap, costumes and children’s makeup, and is often difficult to clean.

But researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have created an alternative, noting that regular glitter is made of microplastics but their creation is biodegradable.

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“In modern flake production, aluminum and polyethylene terephthalate (microplastics) are usually combined to produce the final product,” said Amin Babaeighazvini.

Babaeighazvini is a PhD student at USask and part of the research team that created ChiralGlitter, a plant-based product that can replace glitter.

“While I have developed a number of biodegradable films over the past eight years, we have recently developed biodegradable, edible glitter from natural resources that does not include microplastics.”

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The research team says microplastics have significant impacts on ecosystems, noting that they are non-biodegradable, toxic to the environment and can reach remote parts of the world if they enter waterways.

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“We use a biomaterial such as wood or agricultural waste to synthesize cellulose nanocrystals,” Babaeighazvini said.

“Then we make functional materials from these nanocrystals, like these biodegradable and edible flakes. What makes it eco-friendly and non-toxic is the cellulose. Nanocrystals come from nature.

Babaeighazvini’s research director, Bishnu Acharya, who is also an associate professor of engineering, says they aim to see this product used in the cosmetics industry, adding that there are many uses for cellulose nanomaterials.

“In our lab, we’re always focused on how to get high-value material from something that’s underutilized,” Acharya said.

“And one of the applications is a bio-glitter. But the focus is still how to maximize the value of underutilized biomass and create a value chain to drive the bioeconomy? »

Acharya said that depending on how they change the structure of the biodegradable glitter, they can change the color reflected by light.

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He added that they are working on creating a business plan to produce and sell this product.

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