The Grand Challenge that our group has focused on is the single use plastic waste that has increased as a result of the pandemic. Throughout GCI, we have researched various biodegradable materials that have the potential to replace traditional plastic films. We have made it our goal to create a homemade starch-based biodegradable plastic film and test its compostability in a homemade compost against the compostability of a store-bought biodegradable plastic film and a traditional plastic film. We tested the compostability using two different experiments. These included mass degradation of the films in the compost and the CO2 production of the films using a gas chromatograph. After our data collection, we concluded that our homemade biodegradable film had the highest rates of compostability over time. Our research demonstrates that a viable biodegradable plastic film can be easily created with minimal resources, enforcing the idea that this solution can be implemented to decrease the amount of single use plastic waste and make our society more sustainable.

Full Poster: Degradation Comparison of Plastic Films Over Time