The rapid rise in the production of hazardous waste in the environment, particularly single-use plastics, has prompted the development of sustainable yet cost-effective alternatives. This research aims to create bioplastic films using renewable energy sources. To prevent toxic side products, the composite bioplastics synthesized from sweet potato starch are incorporated with biogenically synthesized ZnO NPs. Biocomposite films were characterized by their morphology, water vapor permeability (WVP), biodegradability, thermal and mechanical properties. It was noted that the ZnO NPs had substantial effects on the tensile properties of the nanocomposite films. The addition of ZnO NPs to the starch bioplastic films considerably enhanced tensile strength from 1.41 to 2.26 MPa, elongation from 78.20 to 114.91%, and Young’s modulus from 1.62 to 2.40 MPa. The incorporation of ZnO NPs lowered the degree of WVP and film solubility value compared to those of the starch films. The bioplastic film incorporated with ZnO NPs had effective UV absorption and transparency. The shift in the peaks in the FT-IR spectra confirmed the relationship between the polymer matrix and the ZnO NPs. Thermal degradation of bio nanocomposite at 339.60 °C is shown by a consistent reduction in TGA between 240 °C and 410 °C. The high melting temperature (Tm) of 144 oC for starch film and 201.86 oC for bio nanocomposite was found using DSC analysis. SEM analysis revealed that biocomposite films had better compatible morphologies with small cracks and the roughness of films increased with the addition of ZnO NPs content. The biodegradability of the biocomposite films was analyzed through the soil burial method. The bioplastic produced in this study has the potential to be a viable alternative to existing conventional plastics in the packaging industry.

Saira Iqbal, Arjumand Iqbal Durrani and Ashi Rashid