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Fighting Plastic Pollution: Researchers Transform Plastic Bottles Into Durable Prosthetics




Plastic pollution is haunting the planet like never before. We are slowly becoming aware of how our plastic wastes, especially bottles, are clogging up the oceans and killing marine life – a late realization that is hitting us hard. It has even made its way to distant places like the Arctic.

During such trying times, there must be a way in which we can fight plastic pollution. And an engineer from De Montfort University’s found just that way. He is developing prosthetics from plastic bottles – one of the best ways to tackle both problems – a solution for plastic pollution and affordable support for amputees.

The prototypes that have been developed were tested on 2 patients and it showed a lot of promise. Dr. Kandan, who is the Associate Director at the Leicester University’s Institute of Engineering Sciences, had utilized polyester yarns which have been spun from plastic bottles. It was developed into strong plastic prosthetics. Plus, it was quite cheap to make as well, costing around £10 when the average in the industry is around £5,000.

Read: England Is Going To Ban Plastic Straws, Stirrers And Cotton Buds By 2020

Dr. Kandan understands that we need both plastic recycling in the modern world as well as affordable plastic prosthetics and both these problems are being tackled by plastic prosthetics. While being cost-effective, this product is not going to be of very poor quality. It is quite durable and can provide the right level of comfort required for patients with amputated limbs.

Dr. Kandan collaborated with researchers from Universities of Salford, Southampton and Strathclyde and Bhagwan Mahaveer ViklangSahavata Samiti (BMVSS) in Jaipur. Bhagwan Mahaveer ViklangSahavata Samiti (BMVSS) is the largest organization in the world involved in the rehabilitation of disabled people. Once the socket was manufactured at De Montfort University, it was taken to India and tested upon two amputees, one’s leg amputated below his knee and another’s leg amputated above his knee. Both of them loved it. It was light and comfortable to handle. Plus, it let the airflow in easily which is a necessity in a hot country like India.

plastic prosthetic patient

Image: Lucas Vasques

The goal of the project was to develop a low-cost alternative material for plastic prosthetic limbs and it has successfully done so, it seems if we go by the initial tests. The project was funded by Global Challenges Research Funding (GCRF) as well as the Academy of Medical Science based in the UK. There are many challenges faced by amputees in developing countries and these low-cost plastic prosthetics could be an answer to their prayers. Plus, it can help people globally too since there are about a hundred million people in the world who have an amputated limb. The most frequent causes of such amputations are accidents and diabetes – both are rising in the current world.

Let’s hope that this product brings a welcome change – both for the environment and our people. We really need to get rid of our plastic bottles and if they can turn so helpful, all the better!

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Kash Khan

Creator of EducateInspireChange


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