Plastics from Plants
Over the past 20 years, chemists and materials engineers have harnessed the power of bioprocessing (think: biofuels and beer making) to extract useful chemicals from agricultural products. These chemicals can be further converted to plastics, many of which have properties quite similar to conventional petroleum derived materials. The future of this industry relies on the economical competitiveness of these new materials, as well as their performance relative to established plastics used today.
- New York Times, July 6, 2008
- Summary: Bioplastics can be made from a wide variety of sources, but the growth of the industry is still hampered by limited ability to convert cellulosic feedstocks, consumer acceptance, and composting infrastructure.
- The Guardian, 22 October 2013
- Summary: Up-and-coming small business Ecovative has developed a foam-like product grown entirely from mycelium fungus. The foam board is grown on cellulosic crop waste and has the potential to replace lightweight foams and composites in packaging, automotive, insulation and sporting applications. Replacement of styrofoam is still out of reach and cost-competitiveness is a challenge.