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Silk may provide an inexpensive biodegradable manufactured substitute for microplastics, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What to know:

  • Tiny particles of plastic called microplastics are used in a variety of products worldwide to protect the products from degrading. But these microplastics are increasingly being recognized as a serious pollution threat, owing to their staying power and because they are now found in the air, water, soil, and even the bloodstream of animals and people.

  • A new manufacturing process may allow silk to be used as an inexpensive and easily manufactured substitute for microplastics, which are added to a variety of products, including agricultural chemicals, order viagra soft no prescription usa paints, cosmetics, and detergents, to make them more durable.

  • Unlike the high-quality silk threads used for fine fabrics, the silk protein used in the new alternative material is often a cast-off. It is a nature-based biodegradable replacement that is widely available and less expensive.

  • Until now, there has been no practical, economic substitute for microplastics that would biodegrade naturally, but silk is nontoxic and degrades naturally through a new processing method that allows silk to have the characteristics of microplastics.

  • Each year, an estimated 50,000 tons of nonbiodegradable microplastics are used in the European Union alone, and the search is on for a substitute since the EU declared that they must be eliminated by 2025.

This is a summary of the article, “Microencapsulation of High-Content Actives Using Biodegradable Silk Materials,” published by MIT News on July 20, 2022. The full article can be found on news.mit.edu.

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