A few years ago, Elif Bilgin, now 16, began thinking about slimy, used banana peels in an entirely new light. She knew that mango skins could be used to make more environmentally friendly plastic, so why not banana peels, too?
But the peels proved a slippery subject, Scientific American writes:
Bilgin spent two years toiling away on her project to develop a bioplastic from discarded banana peels, enduring 10 failed trials of plastics that weren’t strong enough or that decayed rapidly. … Finally, in her last two trials, she made plastics with the features she sought, and it did not decay.
The plastic she made could be used to coat electric wires, for instance, in place of oil-derived plastic. And her patience paid off: She won a $50,000 award in this year’s Google Science Fair. Because there’s always money in the banana (-based plastic) stand.