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The standard principles behind glassmaking have stayed practically the very same for thousands of years. Naturally occurring crushed quartz may possibly have been some of glassmakers’ earliest components, but sand, soda ash and limestone is made use of as an alternative nowadays. These mass-developed glass components that make our preferred wine glasses, the windows in our houses, and screens on our cell phones are far from biodegradable. In reality, at least 1 study shows glass bottles are much more dangerous than plastic equivalents, and recycling them is notoriously hard.

Provided how significantly glass is about us and gets developed each year, that can be a issue for the atmosphere. Being aware of this, researchers lately set out to create a new type of sustainable, eco-friendly glass—with some pretty promising benefits.

[Related: How glass blowing works.]

Detailed in an report published on Friday in Science Advances, a group led by Yan Xuehai at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Method Engineering (IPE) has engineered a new type of biodegradable, biorecyclable glass created from biologically derived amino acids, or peptides projected to have minimal influence on the atmosphere.

Eco-friendly bio-glass has so far been largely unsustainable. The materials’ biomolecular makeup possesses poor thermal stability, and breaks down at the higher temperatures typically essential through glass production. By chemically altering the amino acids and peptides, on the other hand, the group made a novel version of organic glass that is far much more sturdy than its predecessors. According to their findings, the new biomolecular glass is each impressively sustainable and recyclable, even though also featuring lots of of the preferred traits of regular glass items, like malleability and durability.

[Related: Google finally killed off its Google Glass AR headset.]

However, this new biodegradable glass will not be installed in your sunroom anytime quickly. In a statement, Xuehai explains that “the idea of biomolecular glass, beyond the commercially-made use of glasses or plastics, may possibly underlie a green-life technologies for a sustainable future. On the other hand, the biomolecular glass is at the moment in the laboratory stage, and far from massive-scale commercialization.”

Nonetheless, the pretty reality that the group at IPE pulled off a new, green glass could offer a significantly-required enhance for other researchers searching to reach related objectives. The want for glass, regardless of its lots of troubles, is not going anyplace as the globe continues attempting to shift towards a sustainable future—solar panels, for instance, at the moment demand copious amounts of glass to manufacture. Biodegradable variants may possibly nonetheless want fine-tuning, but the current breakthrough shows their possible. 

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