Professor Uyama Hiroshi from the Department of Applied Chemistry in the Graduate School of Engineering of Osaka University during a special talk held at UTB recently. Image: Wardi Wasil

Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) will be collaborating with an expert from Osaka University, Japan to conduct research and develop plant-based biodegradable plastics for the Agrifood industry.

This was revealed by UTB’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Dr Mohammed Hasnain Isa on the sidelines of a special talk on bioplastics last Friday which was held at the Lecture Theatre 1 of UTB’s Library Complex.

“Bioplastics is an important research area that UTB is looking into. We want to look at its application in the Agrifood industry. From the scope of how the food is packaged and the materials that come with it”.

The assistant vice-chancellor told The Bruneian that UTB will be working with Professor Uyama Hiroshi from the Department of Applied Chemistry in the Graduate School of Engineering of Osaka University, hoping to foster sustainable and eco-friendly practices within the sultanate’s Agrifood industry.

Dr Beston Fajek Nore, Director of UTB’s CRAFT (L) and Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Dr Mohammed Hasnain Isa (C) during a special talk on bioplastics held at UTB recently. Image: Wardi Wasil

“For commercial plastics, the issues are actually two-fold; at the production stage, wherein producing plastics from non-renewable resources would emit a large carbon footprint thus contributing to climate change and the second issue lies in its disposal”.

According to statistics by the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRE), Brunei’s waste generation stands around 1.4kg per person per day, more than half of which consists of food and plastic waste.

“Another concern is health,” said Dr Beston Fajek Nore, the Director of UTB’s Centre for Research on Agri-Food Science and Technology (CRAFT). 

Dr Nore said that commercial plastics – including ones used for construction – can sometimes react to light and heat, causing it to leak contaminants into the air which can be hazardous to humans. 

“Plastics are stable and not degradable, leading to toxicity of the environment in air, water and soil. 

UTB’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Research) Dr Mohammed Hasnain Isa during a special talk on bioplastics held at UTB recently. Image: Wardi Wasil.

“In the end, it affects all living matter on earth not just humans. Microplastic contamination is really a big problem worldwide,” continued the director.

The introduction of bioplastics can help reduce these risks, he said, and with Brunei’s high biodiversity, UTB has access to unlimited natural resources that can be used to develop plant-based biodegradable plastics.

“Agri-food is just one aspect of this research because bioplastics have innumerable applications, from construction, building paint to petroleum engineering, these are all the areas we will also be looking into”.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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