Plastic fantastic: UK scientists serve up world’s first ice cream from plastic waste

Photo: Sanook.

Scientists in the UK have innovated the world’s first food made from plastic waste, specifically vanilla ice cream, to highlight global environmental issues and raise awareness about the potential future of food and overflowing plastic waste. The so-called ice cream is actually an art installation named Guilty Flavours by 27 year old Elena Ortolani, aimed at prompting the public to reconsider plastic waste and our daily consumption.

“Guilty Flavours is what I believe to be the first example of an ice cream made from plastic waste. It’s made from the plastics we encounter in everyday life, like plastic bottles.”

The production process of the ice cream was developed by scientists in Edinburgh, Scotland, who controlled the energy metabolism of bacteria and enzymes to act like environmental catalysts to degrade polyethene terephthalate (PET), a type of plastic, and convert it into vanillin, the compound that gives vanilla its flavour.

However, Dr Joanna Sadler, a biotechnology specialist at the University of Edinburgh, clarified that while she assisted Ortolani with various tools, the ice cream is still just a student research project and cannot yet be consumed by humans reported Sanook.

Ortolani stated that her Guilty Flavours project was inspired by her frustration with the failure of the recycling system to prevent plastic waste from entering the environment, which is now impacting the food crisis.

Vanilla is often referred to as green gold as it is the second most expensive spice in the world, second only to saffron.

Amidst the ongoing concerns regarding plastic consumption, Thailand has taken a substantial step in curbing its plastic waste by declaring a comprehensive ban on plastic waste imports, effective from January 1, 2025.

This decision is aligned with the nation’s persistent endeavours to address the mounting issue of plastic waste, which is adversely impacting the environment and endangering human health. Read more HERE.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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