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February 22, 2010

A Better Plastic?
If you've been watching the Olympics, you might have seen an ad for Sun Chips that features its "compostable bag." The plastic in the bag is derived from GMO corn and made by Cargill. The ad neglects to mention those inconvenient truths, though it does claim that its bag will break down in home compost "under ideal conditions."

Even worse, with the possible exception of the Sun Chips bag, corn plastic generally will not break down in home compost, even under ideal conditions -- it's only compostable in "industrial-scale" composting systems. So for those of you who live in San Francisco, which actually has municipal composting, that's all well and good, I guess. But for the rest of us, this stuff is still plain, old [genetically engineered] garbage.

But now researchers in the UK may have just fixed all that:
Scientists at Imperial College London are working on bioplastic packaging - made from trees and grass - that can break down in home composting bins.

The polymer developed by the scientists is made from sugars that come from the breakdown of fast-growing trees and grasses, or agricultural and food waste.

The scientists from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council purposely focused on non-food crops - many common bioplastics come from corn or sugar cane waste - and using low-energy and low-water processes.
Very cool. Keep an eye on this stuff. It could really be the packaging of the future.

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OpenID localnourishment said...

Keep an eye on it, indeed. A very close eye. There are some packaging products about to come down the pike that use nanotechnology, yet another untested, unknown tech, much like GMOs. Nanotech products hope to fly in under the radar now that GMOs have paved the way.

Anonymous Captain Vector said...

Anything that can be made from sugars will eventually be made from corn sugars, as corn is the most efficient producer of sugar per unit area per unit time. Fast-growing trees and grasses will be plowed under for more and more and more corn... until they GM-up some sweet, sugar-producing plankton or something.

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