Straw made from recycled MANGO leaves wins first prize at science fair

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Biodegradable straw made from MANGO peel wins first prize in university science fair and offers an eco-friendly solution to the scourge of plastic pollution Two students in Mexico won first prize at a science fair for their work   Year-long project resulted in ability to turn discarded mango peel into straws  Creators say it is thicker than a normal straw and retains a smell of mango  

By Joe Pinkstone For Mailonline

Published: 13:39 GMT, 4 December 2019 | Updated: 14:07 GMT, 4 December 2019

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More than 50 million tonnes of mango are farmed around the world every year, but the discarded peelings have, until now, been of little use. 

Two university students in Mexico have nabbed first place in a university science fair with their innovative method of turning the peel of the exotic fruit into biodegradable straws. 

Itzel Paniagua and Alondra Montserrat Lopez say they were motivated by a desire to protect the environment and prevent further damage to the world's ecosystems by plastic.  

Two budding scientists in Mexico have nabbed first place in a university science fair with with their innovative method of turning the peel into biodegradable straws. Pictured, one of the straws made by the students

Two budding scientists in Mexico have nabbed first place in a university science fair with with their innovative method of turning the peel into biodegradable straws. Pictured, one of the straws made by the students 

The end result is a drinking straw that can be used (pictured) and would break down naturally in the environment, unlike the plastic alternatives

The end result is a drinking straw that can be used (pictured) and would break down naturally in the environment, unlike the plastic alternatives

Footage shot at the  University Fair of Science, Technology and Innovation in Mexico City shows the students creating the straws. 

More than a year of work, carried out at the College of Sciences and Humanities (CCH), allowed them to figure out a method to blend, treat and process the leaves. 

The end result is a thin sheet of dried pulp which can be rolled into a tube and sealed, creating the straw.  

Alondra Montserrat Lopez says: 'It is like a normal straw only a little thicker with a colour between yellow and brown, it has a mango smell but in the drink it leaves no flavour.'

More than a year of work, done at the College of Sciences and Humanities (CCH), allowed them to figure out a method to blend, treat, process the leaves (pictured)

More than a year of work, done at the College of Sciences and Humanities (CCH), allowed them to figure out a method to blend, treat, process the leaves (pictured)

After being blended into a pulp (pictured), the leaves are poured out onto a flat sheet where it is thinned out and left to dry

After being blended into a pulp (pictured), the leaves are poured out onto a flat sheet where it is thinned out and left to dry 

After the pulp dries and solidifies, it is malleable enough to be bent into tubes (pictured) and sealed with a natural adhesive

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After the pulp dries and solidifies, it is malleable enough to be bent into tubes (pictured) and sealed with a natural adhesive 

Itzel Paniagua (L) and Alondra Montserrat Lopez (R) say they were motivated by a desire to protect the environment, and prevent further damage to the world's ecosystems by plastic

Itzel Paniagua (L) and Alondra Montserrat Lopez (R) say they were motivated by a desire to protect the environment, and prevent further damage to the world's ecosystems by plastic

'We had to do several investigations and tests; We had difficulties, but in the end we succeeded,' the UNAM students said.

'Now we want UNAM to support us to continue with the project until its commercialisation.' 

Plastic waste and straws are a menace to the environment, with their inability to naturally decompose ensuring they persist in nature for hundreds of years. 

Horrific images reveal how animals are struggling to cope with the influx of human waste. 

Turtles and other marine creatures are ingesting plastic straws and carrier bags after mistaking them for food, dolphins and sharks are dying after getting tangled in old fishing nets, and birds are making their nests out of plastic. 

Widespread innovation is underway to find ways to minimise our impact on the natural world, including biodegradable alternatives and finding ways to increase the effectiveness of recycling.  

WHAT FURTHER RESEARCH IS NEEDED TO ASSESS THE SPREAD AND IMPACT OF MICROPLASTICS?

The World Health Organisation's 2019 report 'Microplastics in Drinking Water' outlined numerous areas for future research that could shed light on how far spread the problem of microplastic pollution is, how it may impact human health and what can be done to stop these particles from entering our water supplies.

How widespread are microplastics?

The following research would clarify the occurrence of microplastics in drinking-water and freshwater sources:

More data are needed on the occurrence of microplastics in drinking-water to assess human exposure from drinking-water adequately.  Studies on

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