“At the moment, it will undoubtedly be higher than the cost of producing traditional plastics,” she says. “However, it should drop when produced on a large scale.”

Bioplastics are considered less harmful to the environment because they may be decomposed by the action of living organisms, carbon dioxide (CO2), biomass or water.

Arias is confident that the new material has potential to help tackle the rampant consumption of plastics and the pollution generated by their improper disposal.

However, Alexander Turra, a biologist at the University of São Paulo’s Oceanographic Institute, believes that the issue of plastic waste is more complex. “The pollution caused by plastics is related to the way the global economy is structured and also society’s consumption logic, which is, in turn, relates to the way garbage is discarded,” he says.

“It is essential to think about this in order to change consumer behaviours, even if it involves biodegradable waste,” Turra points out, although he recognises that “this new technological solution is important, and it may act as a palliative measure for the environment”.

300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year

An estimated 8.9 billion tonnes of virgin plastic (non-recycled) and secondary plastic (produced from recycled products) has been manufactured since the middle of the last century, when plastics began to be produced on an industrial scale.