We have worried about plastic use for more than a decade now. Despite its choking hazards to the environment, we barely could find a long-term alternative. However, the discovery of vegan spider silk has given us hope in kicking off plastics forever. In addition to that, bio-mimicry has proved to work yet another time.
National Geography claims that spider silk is the most versatile material on Earth. Regardless of its weak molecular bond, it is considered a strong material. The intriguing properties of the spider web inspired a novel innovation. It is something that we had been craving for so long. The newly formed plastic is as strong as the common plastics. And yes! it is biodegradable.
A recent study in Cambridge discovered vegan spider silk. They fused the idea of spider silk with plant protein. Professor Tuomas Knowles from Cambridge University says that he was inspired by one of the working principles of a spider’s web. Likewise, the principle was “protein-self assembly”. Knowles and the team followed the same principle while making the vegan alternative to plastic. A small curiosity of “protein-self assembly” led him to invent the exceptional product.
With the use of sustainable ingredients, like plant proteins, the researchers developed the “vegan spider silk”. The plant protein mimics spider silk in a molecular way. Consequently, it produces a film-like plastic that can be used on an industrial scale. Although it looks exactly like plastic, it is biodegradable. It also has the potential to use in various applications. Researchers even claim it to be water-resistant.
Knowles believes that this technology has the potential to replace single-use plastic significantly. Since it is made of plant protein, it composts itself. Unlike plastics, they don’t need to go through various industrial processes. The annual production of plastic increases by 200 times every year. However, spider silk has the potency to curtail single-use plastic.
Our conventional alternatives like papers are a good alternative too. Nevertheless, this newly formed vegan plastic can effectively replace plastic. As they both are common in nature. Imagine spider silk replacing plastic from all around the world? We will be one step closer to saving our planet.
Although the release of this phenomenal product is not sure. Knowles expects it to invade homes, shops, health care, industries by 2025. The team has further initiated a dream work, Xampla, which focuses on replacements for single-use plastic. Xampla will commercialize the technology in the coming days.