Saturday, February 21, 2009

'Green plastic'? We're already there. But cost is an issue.

Sure, we can make plastic from plant starch and soy protein. Been doing it for years. So why don't we see green shopping bags, disposable razors and soda bottles? Probably 'cause it's too expensive compared to making those products out of petrol-based plastic. But recently, scientists are improving the technique to "actually grow plastics." (ScienceDaily).

Researchers can grow plants by tampering with their molecular chemistry. The latest breakthrough (by a company called Metabolix) managed to grow plastic via switchgrass plants. But the yield was too low. Too expensive.

Eventually, when costs come down, we'll be a little less dependent on foreign oil (the US needs 430 million gallons of oil to make the number of plastic bags we rifle through each year… but don't get too excited,
we go through double that every day) and we'll lighten the load in our landfills (according to Science Daily, these plant plastics "naturally degraded into water and carbon dioxide by bacteria in the soil").

(image by Material Boy via

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.