Better Bioplastics, Cleaner Beaches

Spring 2022


Beach cleanups and trash wheels are great, but what if the materials used to make the plastic packaging littering beaches and waterways were not only biodegradable but also made from nature itself—from plants?

Alden Murphy, a master’s degree student in materials science and engineering, is looking into methods for developing a new kind of bioplastic to fill that niche. Inspired by the cans, bottles, straws, and other detritus she has seen littering the beaches of Tybee Island, Georgia, where she grew up, she wants to create food packaging that is not only environmentally friendly but also costs less and appeals to consumers. 

“I decided it may be nearly impossible to keep people from littering and focused instead on making trash more biodegradable and safer for the environment,” says Murphy.