Finding a natural alternative from forest resources for plastic single use utensils
Honours Bachelor of Science in Forestry
DisciplineNatural Resources Management
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The use of plastics by society has increased tremendously due to the high durability of the product and low cost of production. High production has changed many products being made of natural materials such as wood to being created from this polymer material. One of the most common single use plastics is plastic utensils such as the cutlery provided by fast-food chains. To suggest the best alternative to plastics, a standardized decay and swelling test was completed on three different potential wood species. Betula papyrifera, Populus tremuloides, and Tilia americana were each tested for both decay and swelling. In the decay test, each of the wood species were tested against three decay fungi, Fomitopsis cajanderi, Fomitopsis pinicola, and Trametes pubescens. Over the four-month test duration, each of the 10 trials for each combination declined in weight excluding the control blocks. Two of the three fungi decayed Betula papyrifera the most. The statistical analysis of the results showed that there is no statistical significance between the different wood species in the experiment. However, Fomitopsis cajanderi showed the most decay for each of the wood species compared to the other fungi. The difference in fungi was deemed to be statistically significant by the 2-way anova. This is of interest because Fomitopsis cajanderi primarily targets conifer species in a natural setting. The lab setting may have provided an easier environment for the fungi to decay the hardwood compared to the harsh natural environment. The environmental benefit of wooden single use utensils to reduce the current 40 billion plastic single use utensils now produced each year globally could be significant.