“100% Bioplastic”. It’s the name of the research project launched by Bicocca University of Crowdfunding to develop a new material of natural and biodegradable origin. The fundraising is starting today on Produzioni dal Basso with the support of Corepla, the Italian Consortiun of Recycled Plastics.
The University of Crowdfunding is an alternative finance program of the University of Milano-Bicocca, promoted to allow students, former students, professors, researchers and employees of the University to carry out innovative projects and business ideas through fundraising campaigns on Produzioni dal Basso, the first Italian crowdfunding and social innovation platform.
The team of “100% Bioplastic” is led by Paola Branduardi, professor of the Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences at the University of Milan-Bicocca and President of Galatea Biotech, a University spin-off that has recently become an innovative SME accredited by the University and specialized in the processing of fully biobased polylactic acid (PLA).
“The use of plastics in many commercial sectors (packaging, textiles, construction, medicine, cosmetics, automotive, hi-tech, etc…) – Branduardi states – has a negative impact on the environment, both during the manufacturing process and at the end of life and disposal: 380 million tons of plastics are produced every year in the world, of which only 9 per cent is recycled and of this, one third end up in landfills”.
In this framework Galatea Biotech is launching its crowdfunding campaign, to focus its research on the development and production of a new type of bioplastic, specifically a material based on polylactic acid (PLA), starting from processes that exploit biomass and microbial fermentations. “PLA is a virtuous bioplastic as it has technical characteristics similar to classic plastics of fossil origin, but can derive from renewable sources such as biomass and above all it is totally biodegradable, compostable in industrial composters and at the end of its life it does not release polluting residues”, explains the manager of the project.
With the first step of fundraising, “we will create compounds through the use of biodegradable biomaterials, such as waste from agro-industrial production, mixed with PLA and we will test their physical and mechanical properties”. This will also be possible thanks to the contribution of Corepla, a national consortium that operates in the field of collection, recycling and recovery of plastic packaging and which will double the budget available to researchers when the target (5,000 euros) is reached. “If we exceed the initial target – continues Paola – we will create some prototypes of objects with the new materials, whose design will increase their value, but also their life cycle”.
For those who choose to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, special rewards have been designed: pens, cups, water bottles, lunch boxes and plants, all under the sign of sustainability. “Considering the qualitative and quantitative impact of traditional plastic in our society, it is truly unthinkable to imagine it is possible to completely replace what exists in short times. But it is equally true that the transition must begin. We want to make our contribution”, concludes the researcher.