MADMEC 2019 winning team addresses non-degradable plastics

At this year's MADMEC competition, ecoTrio won the $10,000 grand prize, PETTIGREW came in second place, and RadioStar in third. ecoTrio's project was a sustainable alternative to non-degradable plastics, PETTIGREW's integrated live bacteria into plastic production to improve degradability, and RadioStar created a low-cost sensor for small-scale farmers.

ecoTrio's product included three materials: an easily-biodegradable but expensive polymer, a biodegradable, cheaper, and easy-to-process plastic polymer, and fine-grained wood particles that further lower the cost. Their blend has a similar cost and melting point as traditional plastics, and its strength and flexibility can be adjusted based on the percentage of added wood particles. It can replace a wide range of materials, from something like a hard spoon to flexible, bag-like materials.