From Fast Company:
In a university lab near Guadalajara, Mexico, researchers trim cactus leaves and feed them into a juicer, creating a bright green liquid. When it's mixed with other natural materials and processed, it undergoes an impressive transformation: The cactus juice becomes a biodegradable plastic.
It's one experiment to help tackle the world's plastic problem. Around nineteen billion pounds of plastic ends up in the ocean each year, and as plastic breaks down there and in landfills, it makes its way into the food system; people now eat an annual diet of more than 50,000 pieces of microplastic. Plastic made from cactus wouldn't necessarily help stop the flow of trash into waterways. But the researchers say that the material biodegrades quickly and is nontoxic if it's eaten. And unlike plastic made from fossil fuels, the cactus-based plastic is carbon neutral as it breaks down–the carbon dioxide it emits equals the carbon dioxide it took in as a plant as it grew.