At 16, Elif Bilgin has already acted more nobly than most of us ever will. In an effort to play her part in the battle against pollution, she has sought out an incredible way to engineer bioplastics.

Plastics made of petroleum derivatives, she says, are causing an appalling amount of pollution. Bioplastics are the solution—she has figured out that they’re not only cheaper to make, they also make good use of recycled waste materials.

After researching the methods for constructing bioplastics, Elif found that they could be made with foods that have sizable quantities of starch in them, like potatoes or bananas. 

She then set out to work on a project that would take two years of development. First, she sourced bruise-free, equal-sized bananas of the same color index, took them to a lab and dipped their peels into sodium metabisulfite solution. Afterwards, she boiled, puréed, added them with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, and baked them to become plastic.

Elif’s project won her first place at the Scientific American Science in Action competition, and she was also a finalist in last year’s Google Science Fair.

[via Marvelous, YouTube]