Teen from Turkey turns bananas into plastic

Jun 27, 2013
Sixteen-year-old Elif Bilgin of Turkey won Scientific American's Science in Action Prize Thursday for discovering how to make a bioplastic out of discarded banana peels.

There's nothing slippery about Elif Bilgin's idea of using banana peels as a substitute for old-school petroleum-based plastics.

The 16-year-old student from Istanbul spent two years perfecting a way to make a bioplastic out of discarded banana peels that could, in turn, be used for the electrical insulation of cables.

On Thursday, her efforts paid off when Scientific American named her the winner of its $50,000 Science in Action prize, a stepping stone to the Google Science Fair for young inventors in California this September.

In her research, Bilgin—who says "science is my calling"—determined that if starch and cellulose from such food waste as mango skins can be used to make bioplastics, then banana peels ought to do the trick, too.

"For me, this means that my project actually has a potential to be a solution to the increasing pollution problem caused by petroleum-based plastic," said Bilgin, who counts Nobel laureate Marie Curie among her heroes.

"It also means that I have started the process of changing the world, which makes me feel like a winner already," she added in an interview on the Scientific American's website, scientificamerican.com.

Explore further: Researchers open possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Banana peels get a second life as water purifier

Mar 09, 2011

To the surprisingly inventive uses for banana peels — which include polishing silverware, leather shoes, and the leaves of house plants — scientists have added purification of drinking water contaminated with potentially ...

Orange peels could be made into biodegradable plastic

Sep 26, 2011

Plastic waste is one of the worst forms of trash because it takes so long to degrade, thus overflowing our landfills and polluting our oceans and waterways. But what if we could make plastic from a recycled, natural, biodegradable ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Jun 28, 2013
Good for him!

Now if we can just keep his government from allying with the barbarians to the east and south.
Matthewwa25
1 / 5 (1) Jun 28, 2013
Let's hope turkey can remain civilized and promoting more of this! This is the way it should go. ;)
bertibus
1 / 5 (4) Jun 28, 2013
@Shootist: Her, not him.
But re the government, I agree.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.