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Scientists at the University of Cambridge have a promising solution for the ubiquity of single-use plastics, according to a new paper published in Nature Communications. A plant-based “vegan spider silk,” a synthetic polymer that mimics spider silk.

A spinoff from the research called Xampla will commercialize the technology and will release the “silk” in sachets and capsules by the end of 2021, Popular Mechanics reported. The material is durable and strong-five times stronger than steel and half as strong as kevlar.

“We normally investigate how functional protein interactions allow us to stay healthy and how irregular interactions are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease,” Tuomas Knowles, a professor at the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, said in a Cambridge news release. “It was a surprise to find our research could also address a big problem in sustainability: that of plastic Pollution.”

The material is home compostable, unlike other bioplastics that require industrial compost.

Co-author Dr. Marc Rodriguez Garcia, a postdoctoral researcher in Knowles’ group who is now Head of R&D at Xampla said in a release, “Other researchers have been working directly with silk materials as a plastic replacement, but they’re still an animal product,” said Rodriguez Garcia. “In a way, we’ve come up with ‘vegan spider silk’ – we’ve created the same material without the spider. The key breakthrough here is being able to control self-assembly, so we can now create high-performance materials. It’s exciting to be part of this journey. There is a huge, huge issue of plastic Pollution in the world, and we are in the fortunate position to be able to do something about it.”

Sign this petition to demand that Biden and Congress work together to save our oceans, our marine animals, and our Earth by banning single-use plastics throughout the entire United States!

To learn more about the impact of plastic waste, please read the articles below: 

There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic Pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actionsand switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!

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