Today’s Solutions: July 06, 2022

The quest to keep plastic out of landfills and simultaneously satisfy the needs of the food industry is filled with obstacles. A biodegradable replacement for petroleum-based products has to meet all sorts of standards and, so far, attempts at viable replacements from renewable sources have faced limited success due to processing and economic constraints. But that may no longer be the case as researchers have found a method that could yield earth-friendly plastics. The researchers have shown that combining natural rubber with bioplastic in a novel way results in a much stronger replacement for plastic, one that is already capturing the interest of companies looking to shrink their environmental footprints. The research team has reported success with a rubber-toughened product derived from microbial fermentation that they say could perform like conventional plastic. The end product turned out to be 75 percent tougher and 100 percent more flexible than common bio-alternatives to plastic, meaning that it is far easier to shape into food packaging.

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