Time to Put a More Sustainable Future in Your Carry Bag

There is no end to what all human beings can do, and yet there is little we do better than pursuing growth on a consistent basis. This tendency to improve, no matter the situation, has got the world to hit upon some huge milestones, with technology emerging as quite a major member of the group. The reason why we hold technology in such a high regard is, by and large, predicated upon its skill-set, which guided us towards a reality that nobody could have ever imagined otherwise. Nevertheless, if we look beyond the surface for another second, it will become clear how the whole runner was also very much inspired from the way we applied those skills across a real world environment. The latter component, in fact, did a lot to give the creation a spectrum-wide presence and started a full-blown tech revolution. Of course, this revolution then went on to scale up the human experience through many different directions, but even after achieving a feat so notable, technology will somehow continue bringing forth the right goods. The same has grown to become a lot more evident in recent times, and assuming one new discovery shakes out just like we envision, it will only propel that trend towards bigger and better heights moving forward.

The researching team at Pennsylvania State University has reportedly conducted a study, which focuses on making paper bags a more durable alternative for the future. To understand the importance of such a development, we must acknowledge that, while paper bags are far more environmental-friendly than their plastic counterparts, they remain an unattractive prospect for the masses due to their short lifespan. This lifespan, notably enough, becomes even shorter once your paper bag is wet. But how did the researchers came up with a method to overcome the stated problem? Well, they based the whole idea around a process where cellulose in paper was torrefied or roasted in an oxygen-deprived environment to greatly increase its tensile strength when wet. Furthermore, as torrefaction decreased glucose yield in the paper, they moved on to treating the material with a solution of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye or caustic soda, which bolstered its glucose yield and turned it into a much more optimal source for biofuel production. In terms of concrete figures, the team revealed that it was able to increase wet-tensile strength by an encouraging 1,533%, 2,233%, 1,567% and 557% after torrefaction for 40 minutes at 392 degrees Fahrenheit, 428 F, 464 F, and 500 F, respectively.

Commenting on the study, Jaya Tripathi, the lead researcher, responded by saying:

“Reuse is mainly governed by bag strength, and it is unlikely that a typical paper bag can be reused the required number of times due to its low durability upon wetting. Using expensive chemical processes to enhance wet strength diminishes paper’s ecofriendly and cost-efficient features for commercial application, so there is a need to explore non-chemical techniques to increase the wet strength of paper bags. Torrefaction could be the answer.”

According to the U.N. Environment Program, 5 trillion plastic bags are produced worldwide annually. And if we sit down and calculate the time it will take for them to disintegrate, the answer could be over 1,000 years. So, once you take that into account, something like a stronger paper bag automatically becomes crucial than ever before.

Surely, there is no denying the potential of this new innovation, but Daniel Ciolkosz, associate research professor of agricultural and biological engineering, also made a point to emphasis upon the bag’s post-use journey, which as we know, covers the need for biofuels.

“When the primary use of these paper products ends, using them for secondary purposes makes them more sustainable,” he said. “Recycling and reducing paper waste also helps in reducing total solid waste destined for landfills. This is a concept we think society should consider.”



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