Describe How the Use of Plant Fibres and Starch May Contribute to Sustainability

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Describe how the use of plant fibres and starch may contribute to sustainability Plant fibres such as hemp, jute, manila, flax and sisal have been used for centuries to make ropes, paper and cloth. They usually have to be extracted from the plant first. The fibres are very long sclerenchyma cells and xylem tissues and are usually very tough and cellulose and lignified cellulose are not easily broken down either by chemicals or by enzymes. On the other hand, the matrix of pectates and other compounds around the fibres, lignin included, can usually be dissolved or removed. Plant fibres are known for having great tensile strength and therefore cannot be easily broken by pulling. This, along with their flexibility, makes them very useful. They usually occur in bundles of fibres which are much stronger than the individual cells. Paper is usually made from fibres from wood however wood fibres are not easily extracted because the matrix around the cellulose fibres contains a lot of lignin. As a result, wood is soaked in very strong alkalis such as caustic soda to produce a pulp consisting of cellulose and lignified cellulose fibres in water. Thin layers of pulp are then pressed onto frames where they dry to form paper. Many traditional methods of producing fibres such as flax, often used for ropes, simply relied on the natural actions of decomposers to break down the material around the fibres, known as retting. In developed countries manufacturing processes have replaced natural retting, using chemicals and enzymes to quicken the process. It is most likely that the best and most widely used of the natural fibres is cotton. A large advantage of cotton is that it is produced in the form of almost pure fibres, packed around the seeds. Therefore, there is no need for retting or other treatment. Single cotton fibre cells are very long; however they are not long enough to

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