The Fruitplast product has been pioneered at the University Sain Malaysia (USM) and made from the skins of tropical fruits such as bananas, rambutans and chempedak.
Team leader professor Hanafi Ismail said the idea to produce plastic from fruit waste came about because of the perceived potential for bio-degradable plastic which is forecast to grow by up to 30 per cent a year.
“Commercial bio-degradable plastic such as polylactic acid (PLA) and polycaprolacton (PCL) that are available in the West are at least eight times as expensive as the petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP),” said the professor. “We have developed a study to produce bio-degradable plastic using waste products from fruits to reduce costs but which can compete with the quality of the commercial plastics that are currently available in the market.”
Fruitplast is estimated to be 10 per cent cheaper than the petroleum-based commercial plastics (PE, PP) and is able to biodegrade within three to six months, said the team.
“This innovation also has huge commercial prospects not only in Malaysia but also world-wide because it is based on the concept of sustainability, is cheap and excellent for the packaging industry,” added Hanafi. “The durability of the plastic also has met the standards that have been determined and if it is not exposed to the elements (soil and weather), Fruitplast can remain in its original condition for up to two years.”
The university, which funded the project, said Fruitplast won a Gold medal at the International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX) 2010, held in Kuala Lumpur recently.