Thursday, July 9, 2015

cellophane - Not normal plastic. It biodegrades!

Cellophane is colloquially referred to as plastic, but true cellophane is actually entirely biodegradable. It is made from cellulose which is retrieved from materials like wood, cotton, and help by dissolving them in alkali and carbon disulfide and then putting it into a bath of dilute sulfuric acid and sodium sulfate.

The process by which it is made sounds like it involves some icky stuff, but at least it's not something that'll stick around indefinitely after it gets tossed into a landfill.

Apparently the creation of cellophane started out accidentally. The Swiss chemist Jacques E. Brandenberger saw a wine spill on a tablecloth and decided to create a cloth that would repel liquids rather than absorb them. So he sprayed a waterproof coating onto the fabric which made it too stiff. But he was able to easily separate the clear film from the cloth and that led him to forget about his original intention. Instead he spent the next 10 years perfecting the film until 1912 when he constructed a machine to manufacture the film which he named Cellophane.

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