Make Your Own Bioplastics!





Introduction: Make Your Own Bioplastics!

This is my first try to document a scientific research project in a maker online community to demonstrate how scientists can make use of this platform to facilitate their research and encourage collaborations. This is still an ongoing new material research project, so we welcome collaborations (if you are interested, you can leave a comment below to see how can you contribute and I can add you as contributor for this instructable). Stay tuned!

Contributors: Maria Li Lok Yee, Gert Grobler, Maro Pebo, Mike Yuen

Community biolab: DIY BIO Hong Kong

Why we do this?

- The plastic wastes problem. We lived in a city that produce many plastics waste everyday. We also know that the waste are not being recycled properly, and the waste can get to the ocean and take ages to degrade. We have a strong feeling that want to do something to build a sustainable way and circular economy.

- DIYBIO community project, combine our interests and specialties (you can see how we map out the project in the mindmap)

- Personal reason: I was surprised to learn about the great pacific garbage patch (plastics soup) in the ocean when I attended a ecology lecture in uni and as a staff working in maker space, I see there are many wastage from packaging or scrap laser cut and 3D printing materials everyday. These reasons all make me want to develop a circular economy that create less waste and develop new materials that are sustainable.

Step 1: Experiment on Different Recipes




Recipe 1:

  • 50mL Water
  • 5mL Vinegar
  • 5g Glycerol
  • 6g Wheat Flour

Recipe 2:

  • 50mL Water
  • 5mL Vinegar
  • 5g Glycerol
  • 7.5g potato starch

Recipe 3:

  • 50mL Water
  • 5mL Vinegar
  • 5g Glycerol
  • 6g Tapioca starch

Recipe 4:

  • 50mL Water
  • 5mL Vinegar
  • 5g Glycerol
  • 7.5g sweet potato starch

Recipe 5:

  • 50mL Beetroot juice
  • 5mL Vinegar
  • 5g Glycerol
  • 7g potato starch

--- === Reference: === ---

Gelatin based


  • 240 mL cold water
  • 48g Gelatin (you can get the jelly powder from supermarket)
  • 12g Glycerol (you can get it from pharmacy)

--- === Reference: Clara Davis (2017) Fabtextile === ---


Recipe 1:

  • 1.5L hot water
  • Green tea leaves
  • 150mL Vinegar
  • 150g Sugar

Recipe 2:

  • 750mL hot water
  • Black tea leaves
  • 75mL Vinegar
  • 75g Sugar

Recipe 3:

  • 750mL hot water
  • Green tea leaves
  • 75mL Vinegar
  • 75g Sugar

--- === Reference: === ---

You can put the paste state bioplastic mixture on the molding or simply pour it in petri dish, spread it evenly and let it dry. It usually take 2-3 days to dry at 25C. In our case, we keep the lid open and incubate the bioplastic samples into an incubator under 25C for a week.

Step 2: Property Testing

Flammability test

Step 3: Make Prototypes From Bioplastics

Coming soon

Proposed products to prototype: Bags, wallets, food packaging, fork and knives, textile.

Step 4: Degradation Test

Coming soon



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    13 Discussions

    OK, so I absolutely LOVE this, but I'm puzzled as to how manufacturing more plastic helps solve the "too much plastic in the world" problem?

    2 replies

    very simple. bioplastic, appearing in open nature causes no harm. And till it takes time people to change their consumer habits, using bioplastic instead of regular wins extra time to clean the nature. At the moment, speed of pollution gives no chance to win. (Amount of plastic dropped in nature is bigger than speed of projects, capable to clean it up.)

    Bio-plastics can help in two ways: They are renewable(so oil can be conserved), and/or they break down much faster than normal plastics. If you use materials that are normally considered waste(like empty pea-pods), so much the better. :)

    Hello I am looking for some one be able to make alot of ramen soup bowl and lid

    I would like to have your help with not too expensive price.

    I am going to have surf and food events in Hawaii

    and I would love to propulsion bio plastic in same time.

    if some one there please contact me

    There are lots of substances that can be considered as "plastics", and a few more "features" to be tested, such as the "mouldability" and "workability", or the ductility. Also, the "forming" temperature and the structure of your plastic may make a huge difference in its behaviour.
    Considering a plastic is most often a polymer (long chains of monomers), you can assume that a good few "natural" proteins can be transformed into plastic.
    For instance, take milk and vinegar (or a slightly stronger acid, like concentrated lemon juice), heat to 50ºC, stir for 20mins or so, sieve (thoroughly) through a sock to get rid of the water, apply in thin layers (use a spatula) on a flat surface. This thing is called "erinoid" and has pretty impressive qualities (hydrofuge, resistance to heat), can be worked with usual tools and cannot be moulded (too bad...). Making a layered structure is going to give you mechanical characteristics very different from the raw material itself... Your table may become very, very large... good luck!

    Usage compatibility matrix would be a useful activity - Which are the practical applications for the bioplastic generated?


    5 months ago

    Two days ago I discovered about Bioplastic and now I find this scientific approach to the differrent variables. Really looking forward to see more about it!

    3 replies

    very interesting glad you came across I have been looking @ this also. I find seaweed methods interesting. I'm looking @ what natural available in geographic areas tgat may have provided links to ancient geopolymers.

    Geopolimers to do plastic? I didn't knew that. Personally, I rather avoid any mineral resource (specially aluminum based) since are finite and usually hardy recyclable..
    However I must say I know very little about geopolymers

    Did you know?
    You can make a fairly hard plastic out of Milk and Vinegar.

    This is an awesome project! Can't wait to see the rest of your results!