Packing peanuts from sunflower stem pith, biobased packaging tape, wheat-based ‘turtle straws’, bioluminescent glow sticks, and more: The Digest’s Top 10 Innovations for the week of January 9th

January 8, 2020 |

As you clean up the post-holiday mess, you might find those annoying packaging peanuts all over your home or office…but three teens have developed an alternative to packing peanuts made from sunflower stem pith! And while we are talking about packaging, a German-based adhesives maker introduced biobased packaging tape. And with the darkness of winter, check out a Canadian entrepreneur’s use of natural enzymes to create bioluminescent glow sticks.

In today’s Digest, get the details on the week’s Top 10 Innovations, and more – and it’s ready for you now at The Digest online.

#1 Irish teens win award for renewable packing peanuts

In Ireland, three teens have developed an alternative to packing peanuts made from sunflower stem pith. Eoin Cottrell (16), Benjamin Velon (16), and Jamie O’Callaghan (15), all students at Douglas Community Schools in county Cork, won the Young Scientists Biological & Ecological for their project.

The material can replace foam packing peanuts normally made from polystyrene and Styrofoam. The three found that when dried and cut, the sunflower plant core, also known as pith, performs similarly to non-biodegradable incumbents.

“Our science teacher, Mr O’Mahony, came in with sunflower stems that he got from his back garden and we were looking at them in science class,” Cottrell tells Eco Live. “We realized that the inside of the stems reminded us a lot of the kind of foam packaging you find in parcels from places like Amazon, so we decided to do some tests on it. We think it’s a great idea because after you get a package you can just put it in your compost bin, and it will break down over time.”

Sunflowers are widely grown for sunflower oil, but the stems are considered a waste byproduct.

“Processing it is a challenge at the moment because by hand it’s very slow and the shapes are very irregular but if it was going to be a business, we’d be able to make custom machinery that would be able to process it quickly,” O’Callaghan adds.
More on the story, here.

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