Research Highlight

Plastic substitute from jute, soy

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.27 Published online 23 February 2012

Researchers have synthesized novel biodegradable biocomposites by mixing jute fibre with soymilk extracted from water-soaked soy seeds. The biocomposites could offer novel substitutes to non-biodegradable plastic products.

To find a cheap biodegradable alternative to plastics, researchers extracted soymilk from the paste of water-soaked soy seeds. They made soy resin films by mixing various concentrations of glyoxal with soymilk in the presence of glycerol. With these soy resin films, they mixed varying quantities of non-woven jute fibres and woven jute fabrics to yield two biocomposites — woven and non-woven jute soy.

The tensile strength of both biocomposites increased as the jute fibre loading was increased. This indicates good adhesion between the jute fibre and the soy resin. This may be due to bonding between the cellulose of jute fibre and the protein of soy resin in the presence of glyoxal, which helps in crosslinking between them.

The researchers investigated the biodegradability of the woven and non-woven jute soy, soy resin films and jute fibres by burying each material in soil. After 60 days of degradation by soil microbes, soy resin films, jute fabric, woven and non-woven jute soy all exhibited significant weight losses. This indicates that such composites are biodegradable and environment friendly.

"Besides their potential applications in indoor furniture, sapling pots and computer cabinets, these biocomposites leave a safe carbon residue that can be tapped to improve soil fertility without harming the environment," says lead researcher Ramkrishna Sen.

The authors of this work are from: Materials Science Centre, and Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, West Bengal, India.


  1. Behera, A. K. et al. Fabrication and characterizations of biodegradable jute reinforced soy based green composites. Carbohydr. Polymer. 88, 329-335 (2012) | Article |