Bioplastic TinkerLab

  2019 - on going  

A biomaterial research that explore alternative ways to produce a circular material model that is biophilic and sustainable.

 

What inspired me to do this project?

During the time I was a Biology undergraduate, I watched a video about the great pacific garbage patch (plastics soup) in the ocean. I was shocked from learning about how serious the plastic waste pollution is, and how is it greatly impact our ecosystem negatively. Later when I worked in a maker space, I saw many wastage from courier packaging, scrapped laser cut and 3D printing materials everyday. I feel I should take actions to tackle this problem.

Overview

This project is a self-initiated project which I did with the DIY BIO HK community. The project aims to develop materials that is more sustainable and biophilic. Besides, the research also aims to design a circular material model can create less waste. 

The outcome is a bioplastic material collection, and a tote bag made with bioplastic to demonstrate the possibilities of application. The experience is also shared with a group of undergraduate students in a HKU Design + lecture. 

Bioplastic experiment with various DIY recipes.

Inspirations
Science and Social

I explored the concepts of circular economy, environmental impact of plastic waste and social R&D.

bioplastic inspiration - science and soc
Recipes

The project takes inspiration from FabTextile experiments on biomaterials, and the Kombucha leather by Suzanne Lee.

bioplastic inspiration - Recipes.jpg
Applications

Different forms of possible application can be made from bioplastics.

bioplastic inspiration - Applications.jp
Ideation & Development

Click the image to view the decription

Bioplastic tote bag making of video.

Outcomes

Looking into the result of the property test, I found that gelatin-based bioplastic recipe is the most stable one. A larger sheet is then casted, dried, then laser cut to make a tote bag. 

The results and recipes that I have experimented with are consolidated and documented to share with a group of HKU design students from the Design+ programme. 

Food pigment is added to the gelatin-based bioplastic sheet while it's still wet to make pattern.

Gelatin-based bioplastic sheet is quite flexible which is suitable for textile project.

Gelatin-based bioplastic bag making.

Students from HKU Design+ programme experimented on different bioplastic recipes.

Presentation slide I prepared for the HKU students. (Presentation link)

More detailed documentation of this project can be found in instructables and this blog post.

What Next?

Through experimenting with carbohydrate based bioplastic​, I have a deeper understanding of the properties, potential applications, and limitation of this material. It can be a good material for temporary usage, such as food packaging. But it is not a suitable material for providing as a structural support. So next step, I will investigate other options in bio-inspired materials that can provide a strong structural support and is more durable.