Indore: Shreya Shah a scientist and biotechnologist who also happens to be a home maker used to worry about the problem of ill effects of plastics as well as mounting waste generating from kitchen.
Currently, bio-plastics represent only one percent of the 335 million tons of plastic produced annually. She resolved to use her knowledge of science and research to resolve both these problems and started researching over converting bio-plastics from using kitchen waste. She worked in the laboratory of School of Biotechnology in the Devi Ahilya University under the guidance of Dr Anil Kumar.
She analysed that normally plastics which are used by us are made from petroleum based materials and are hazardous for the environment as they do not get degraded and are being buried in land-fills. However bio-plastics made of special materials can be recycled and can be degraded in soil are better for replacing plastics but are unpopular due to their high costs. Shreya studied the chemical composition of plastics and found the carbon content to be driving force. She extracted the carbon sources from domestic kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable waste, wheat flour and other items. This waste was processed with a bacterial species which resulted in a bio degradable polymer compound which is both economical and eco-friendly. Use of kitchen waste in making bio plastics will also resolve the problem of disposal of such mounting waste.
Her research was submitted to Springer Journal of Biotechnology which is renowned research journal of Brazil where her work was published. Shreya has also received Young Scientist award from M.P. Council for Science and Technology for her research.
One of the major challenges faced in the research was to process the waste in such a way that the derived polymers holds the strength and other properties as of petroleum-based plastics in addition to have the capability to degrade in a shorter time and non-toxic to humans which became possible with the help of a bacterial species called Bacillus tropicus.
She suggests that Indore being the number one cleanest city presently uses the kitchen waste to make compost but with this new research Indore Municipal Corporation can work out to produce bio plastics from the waste generated.
It is seen that several multinational companies have already begun using bio-plastics. The need of the hour is to switch towards eco-friendly manufacturing and utilization of plastics for a greener and healthier future. Assessing the need of bio-plastics, Shreya started work on production of bio-plastics producing bacteria and has been successful in her research.