POTATO STARCH

First News now comes in a completely compostable wrapper!

As the first children’s title in the UK to introduce this spud-tacular change, it brings us another step closer to becoming less reliant on single-use plastics and to achieving our ‘Wonderful World Pledge’.

Our brand new wrapper is made from a material called BIOPLAST® 300 which is made from waste potatoes left out of the food chain and processed to release the starch.

It is certified as ‘OK compost HOME’ which means it can be easily disposed of with food waste, garden compost or in green council compost recycling bins and is also completely biodegradable.

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Why not try making your own potato plastic at home?

Now that First News is sent in a completely compostable wrapper made from potato starch, we thought your children might like to have a go at making your own potato-based plastic at home.

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STEP 1

How to extract the potato starch:

  1. Wash and peel the potatoes.
  2. Chop the potatoes and put in a blender with a cup of water, mix until you have a cloudy liquid. (If you do not have a blender handy, you can simply grate and mash the potatoes then pick any large chunks of potato out of the mix.)
  3. Leave the mixture to stand for about 20 minutes. You should now see a white substance settling at the bottom of the mixture. This is the potato starch! Using a sieve, strain the cloudy liquid to remove any big bits of potato that might still remain.
  4. Leave this to stand for a further 30 minutes and then carefully pour the top liquid away as you will no longer need this.
  5. The starch at the bottom of the container can be used immediately or kept and dried to use later.

STEP 2

How to make the potato plastic:

  1. Measure out 1 tablespoon of starch (that you made or bought) into a saucepan. Preferably an old one that is non-stick.
  2. Add 125ml (about 7 tablespoons) of cold water.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the mixture.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons of the glycerine. More glycerine will make the plastic softer and more flexible, less will make it harder and stiffer but more brittle.
  5. If you want coloured plastic, add a few drops of food colouring.
  6. Mix it all together using a spatula.
  7. Place the saucepan on the hob at a low heat and stir constantly. When the mixture starts to thicken, turn the heat up to medium and keep stirring.  When it starts to boil, keep it boiling for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to become clear and get very sticky.
  8. You should now have a ‘gooey’ substance that you can pour into a mould or spread thinly onto a baking tray or sheet of aluminium foil.
  9. Leave this to dry for about a day and your plastic should be ready to use.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 white potatoes (or to skip straight to step 2, you can use shop bought potato or corn starch)
  • Glycerine (this helps make the bioplastic more flexible)
  • White wine vinegar (this helps remove the starch polymers we don’t want)
  • A saucepan
  • Food colouring
  • Spatula
  • A hob
  • A mould, baking tray or aluminium foil
OPTIONAL:
  • Blender
  • Knife
  • Peeler
  • Sieve
  • Potato masher
  • A glass or plastic bowl or similar container

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