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Scientists Develop Cheaper, Greener Plastic For Food Packaging, Other Applications

February 18, 2010: 06:57 AM EST
Scientists have long sought a renewable, easily biodegradable plastic that could be produced cheaply and efficiently and used in food packaging, etc. Now scientists in the U.K. have come up with what could be the answer. Biodegradeable plastics do exist – polylactide is the best known – but production and disposal are energy intense and expensive. The new plastic uses a polymer made from sugars known as lignocellulosic biomass, derived from cheap non-food crops such as fast-growing trees and grasses. And, because the sugars are oxygen-rich, the plastic absorbs water and degrades to harmless products: consumers can toss them on a compost heap with other natural waste.
EPSRC Press Office, "Compostable plastics have a sweet ending", Press release, February 18, 2010, via EurekAlert, © U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
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