Public Engagement

General Public

Sustainable Plastics: Biopolymers

Friday, September 20, 2019 at 10:00 am to 11:30 am

University Center, 618 63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

With 8 billion tons of plastic waste entering our oceans, a move towards recycling and reuse has been implemented. Alongside these efforts, a movement to create biodegradable plastics is also underway. Commercially, if a plastic contains 20% renewable material it is considered to be “bio-based.” This 20% is usually made of shrimp shells, wood, coconut, wheat, corn or other renewable materials. This also means the remaining 80% can be made from traditional fossil fuel-based plastic polymers. These fuel-based plastics leach and create a concentrated source of estrogen disruptors (Link) that negatively impact biodiversity and human health. Join us as we explore more sustainable and less toxic polymers in an effort to protect ecosystem health and reduce landfill waste.  In this lab, we use a very simple proof of concept approach to creating biopolymers from household items such as starch, milk, and sugar and examine variables such as temperature, concentration, and time in their synthesis. 


Blog Post: Martinko, Katherine. Nov 28, 2017. “The problem with bioplastics.” TreeHugger, Treehugger. Link

Video: TEDxTalks. Aug 25, 2016 “Bioplastic Fantastic: Why we don't need oil for plastics | Kathryn Sheridan | TEDxGhent.” YouTube. Link

Feature Science Article: Drahl, C. June 22, 2019. How Seafood Shells Could Solve the Plastic Waste Problem. Science News 195 (11):18-22. Link


This event is sponsored by The Department of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts and The Provost Office.

Event Type

Workshops and Training


General Public


University Science Labs


Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change


Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts


Natural Science



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By Train:
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The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.

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