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  • We just can't seem to get enough guac.

  • Last year, Americans consumed more than 6 billion avocados.

  • And that produces a lot of inedible waste.

  • Now, a company has developed a process

  • to transform avocado pits into plastic.

  • Bioplastics like these could help reduce pollution

  • because they break down faster and use less fossil fuels.

  • But how they're made and disposed of determines

  • if they really are a cleaner alternative.

  • We visited Biofase in Monterrey, Mexico,

  • to see how it all works.

  • Mexico exports about half of the world's avocados.

  • A single worker at this plantation in Michoacán

  • can cut over 800 pounds of the fruit per day.

  • Many of these avocados will be shipped whole,

  • but some are pitted and processed locally.

  • This factory produces ready-to-eat guacamole and salsa.

  • They tried composting the avocado scraps,

  • but it didn't work.

  • Avocado pits contain oils that made the process complicated.

  • So now they sell their seeds to Biofase.

  • Bioplastics are what we call products that are mostly made

  • of biological substances instead of petroleum.

  • The process starts with avocado seeds

  • that have been washed at the supplying factory.

  • As the seed is going through the machine,

  • it's turned into a bioplastic resin

  • that's ready to withstand a lot of heat.

  • What comes out the other end is a malleable sheet

  • that can be molded and cut into different shapes.

  • Studies have shown that bioplastics

  • are an improvement over traditional plastics.

  • It takes less fossil fuels to produce them,

  • they contain fewer toxic chemicals,

  • and they decompose faster.

  • The technology to make these products

  • has improved over the past few years

  • and has grown to a nearly $20 billion industry.

  • That's about the same size

  • as the rapidly growing plant-based meat industry.

  • Biofase is part of that trend.

  • The company launched eight years ago with a single facility.

  • Today it has three locations across Mexico.

  • But there are issues.

  • Bioplastics require special industrial facilities

  • to properly compost,

  • and they can contaminate the regular recycling stream.

  • They're also more expensive than regular plastic,

  • which is made from readily available petroleum.

  • There are two reasons, because first of all,

  • crude oil is quite cheap right now.

  • And secondly, the production capacity

  • for bioplastics is much lower,

  • while for fossil-based plastics it's much bigger.

  • So they have an economy of scale in terms of production.

  • Biofase produces

  • about 130 tons of bioplastics each month.

  • That's equivalent to the conventional plastic waste

  • produced by 13,000 Americans.

  • It's a modest output for now,

  • but Biofase products are shipped across Mexico,

  • the UK, and other countries in Europe.

  • And the company recently expanded to Australia.

  • But there's a long way to go.

  • Bioplastics, I think, is probably a little bit less

  • than 1% of the fossil-based plastics.

  • For now, they are mostly used in restaurants.

  • But the idea that biodegradables can be thrown

  • into nature and will eventually go away is false.

  • It can take up to a year for bioplastics

  • to break down in natural conditions.

  • That's still plenty of time to clog waterways

  • or harm animal habitats.

  • Still, that's much shorter than conventional plastic items,

  • some of which will stick around for hundreds of years.

  • Bioplastics can replace some traditional plastics.

  • So far, that's only been tried on a small scale,

  • but thanks to Biofase, we may be one avocado toast away

  • from a cleaner planet.

We just can't seem to get enough guac.

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How Avocado Waste Is Turned Into Plastic | World Wide Waste

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    joey joey posted on 2021/07/01
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