Don’t slip on that banana peel. Don’t throw it away. Banana peels can be used to reduce petroleum-based pollution and create bio-plastic.
A 16-year-old student from Istanbul named Elif Bilgin developed a chemical process that turns the peels of banana into a non-decaying bioplastic. Her aim was to find an alternative to petroleum produced plastics in order to save the environment from the increasing pollution problem.
From her research, she discovered that starch and cellulose are very important for the production of plastic. Potato and mango peel skin are already commonly used for this so she thought banana peels should also work.
She took the bananas of same size and color with no bruises. Then she dipped the peels in sodium metabisulfite solution. After that, she boiled and pureed them. The resulting paste was molded into a petri dish and heated.
Bilgin spent two years refining her techniques to make a bioplastic out of discarded banana peels. Many times her trials ended with disappointment, but her determination made her successful in the last two trials.
She won the $50,000 Science in Action award for her endeavors to make a practical difference by addressing an environmental challenge. Learn more about her discovery on Google Science Fair’s YouTube channel: