Shape the Future of ACS! We want your feedback about the ACS brand and how we can serve you better into the future. Take the Survey!

Someday your fork or toys could be made of sugar, and dissolve away

Headline Science

Youtube ID: SX_aXWkAxF0

Single-use hard plastics are all around us: utensils, party decorations and food containers, to name a few examples. These items pile up in landfills, and many biodegradable versions stick around for months, requiring industrial composting systems to fully degrade. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering have created a sturdy, lightweight material that disintegrates on-demand — and they made it from sugar and wood-derived powders.

Source Article

“Amorphous Sugar Materials as Sustainable and Scalable Alternatives for Rigid, Short-Term-Use Products”
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Corresponding author: Scott T. Phillips, Ph.D.


On-screen text: Single-use plastics pile up in landfills. Even biodegradable plastics can stick around for months if they’re not properly composted. 

Sugar-like isomalt can create sturdy decorations, so maybe it could be a substitute for hard plastics too? 

Scott Phillips’s team heats isomalt with wood-derived powders. They squeeze out the paste into small pellets. The pellets get molded into objects that are harder than some plastics, like PVC. Here, when a saucer made with the pellets gets smashed, it quickly breaks down in water. 

The researchers say the new material could be used to make single-use utensils and other items that degrade on-demand.

To embed this video, please visit YouTube and use the Share function.

Related Content