16-Year-Old Inventor Goes Bananas for Bioplastics

Turkish teen Elif Bilgin invents a revolutionary, fossil-fuel-saving bioplastic made entirely out of banana peels.

Meet Elif Bilgin, the next teen wunderkind. (Photo: Screenshot/Fox TV Ana Haber)


Jul 2, 2013
Anna Hess is an editorial intern at TakePart. She is the Crime and Legal beat reporter for the University of Pennsylvania’s daily newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, and volunteers as a mentor in the West Philadelphia public school district.

Here’s a 16-year-old that will make your high school days of acne and awkwardness seem exceptionally inadequate.

Turkish student-scientist Elif Bilgin, from Istanbul, has spent two years experimenting with ways to produce a bioplastic out of used banana peels—and now her really hard work has paid off.

Bilgin is the winner of the 2013 $50,000 Science in Action award from the Google Science Fair. The young scientist says that the banana bioplastic could be used for the electrical insulation of cables.

Her hope, big picture-wise, is that bioplastics could one day replace petroleum-based plastics that harm the environment in oh-so many ways, including constituting 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface. That’s 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile!

So take it from Bilgin; the girl who invented the body-heat-powered flashlight; the teen who utilized sound waves to detect land mines; and this eighth-grader working to remove all kinds of nasty chemicals from your drinking water. You don’t even need a driver’s license to change the world. 

Show Comments ()

More on TakePart

High Schoolers Don't Know Where Food Comes From