Millions of tons of plastic trash pile up in landfills every year. There, the waste never completely biodegrades, or breaks down. Mexican engineer Sandra Pascoe Ortiz has found a way to help reduce that waste. She invented a plastic-like material made from a cactus plant.
To create the material, Pascoe Ortiz mixes thick green juice from the cactus’s leaves with wax and other natural substances. The mixture is spread into a thin layer. Once it dries, it becomes strong and flexible.
The material could be used to make bags and other items. It takes about a month to break down in soil and a few days to dissolve in water. It’s also nontoxic. That’s good news for animals, which often mistake discarded plastic for food, says Pascoe Ortiz.