Saturday, 5 October 2019

Research: Alternatives To Plastic

The horror of what indestructible plastic is doing to our world is everywhere today. I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon, but the book I am using to fuel my research, A Brief History of the Future, mentions chitin as being found to be a practical alternative to plastic. I thought I would check it out.

What Is Chitin?

Chitin is similar to keratin, which is what our hair and fingernails are made of. It is found in the shells of shellfish, in insects and fungi. It turns out that chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer on Earth. The most abundant biopolymer is cellulose, which is found in trees and plants.

I found two articles from July 2018, one in Physics World and one in Cosmos Magazine, about a process which sprays layers of cellulose and chitin to form a soft, transparent material, very like plastic.


I also found an article about silicone (not to be confused with silicon). Many kitchen implements today can be found in silicone. It has remarkable properties, like being non stick and heat resistant.

Replacing Plastic

We are all trying to do our bit to be greener. Here is an article on 10 alternatives to plastic. But at the same time, it’s a minefield, and here is an article on some plastic alternatives that are not as good as they seem.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at

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