Eleonora Ortolani, a UK designer and artist, has created what she says is the world’s first ice cream made from plastic waste, as part of her final-year project at Central Saint Martins.
The ice cream was developed by Eleonora Ortolani and the confection still has to go through extensive testing.
While it may not yet be ready for widespread enjoyment, the woman has shared her innovative creation with the world through an awe-inspiring exhibit known as 'Guilty Flavors'.
The secret ingredient in this remarkable creation is vanillin, the same compound found in plastic bottles.
Ortolani achieved this feat by collaborating with bacteria and enzymes that have naturally evolved to digest plastic, particularly polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a commonly used plastic in bottles, packaging, and food containers.
Dr. Joanna Sadler, a biotechnologist from the University of Edinburgh, played a pivotal role in Ortolani's project by providing specially engineered bacteria.
"Once you break down the plastics, in this case PET, into its fundamental building blocks, known as monomers, you can transform these components into a multitude of different products," says Dr. Sadler.
"When I initiated this project, it seemed like something out of science fiction. My primary focus was on pushing boundaries and exploring the limits of possibility," stated Ortolani, adding that "Yet, as the journey progressed, it became evident that some species of organisms were already capable of consuming plastic, and some scientists were actively investigating this phenomenon. So, why not embrace this frontier?"
The product of this process should not be confused with microplastics, which are still plastic on a molecular level.
"Microplastic looks like it's a molecule, but it's actually a very tiny bit of plastic," said Ortolani.
"It's not broken."