US Scientists reporting in the ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal claim to have created a new type of material that could replace single-use plastic items commonly used in the food industry and for temporary decorations.

The material, made from sugar and wood-derived powders is lightweight but can disintegrate on-demand, making it a promising alternative to traditional plastics that can take years to break down in landfills.

The researchers combined isomalt, a sugar alcohol, with natural additives such as cellulose, cellulose and sawdust, or wood floor. They then heated the mixture and extruded it into small pellets that were moulded into various objects, including balls, saucers, and even a chess piece.

New, strong material dissolves in minutes, could replace single-use plastics

According to the study, all of the tested additives doubled the strength of the material, making it harder than common plastics like PET and PVC. However, unlike traditional plastics, this material can dissolve in water within minutes.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

The saucers made from the material were coated with food-grade shellac and cellulose acetate, allowing them to withstand immersion in water for up to seven days. But once the coating was cracked, the saucers rapidly disintegrated in water.

The researchers suggest this new material could be used for food-service items and temporary decor that can easily be disposed of by crushing and spraying with water.

Even if these items end up in the environment, the material will eventually break down into sugar and plant-based additives, which could be beneficial for soil.

Due to greater awareness and education on environmental issues, the majority of consumers now associate plastic packaging with environmental pollution.

“With increasing public awareness of the harm plastic has on the environment, consumers are increasingly seeking a relationship with retailers and manufacturers that extends beyond a mere transaction,” notes GlobalData in a report about how consumer attitudes towards plastic waste are changing.