|Wednesday What's New: Plastic from Plants|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Wednesday, 26 June 2013|
Otherwise known as bioplastics “green” plastics are derived from plants instead of petroleum and takes us another step further in the journey to becoming less dependent on a non-renewable resource. An Australian company was recently in the news having achieved a major advance by accumulating 30 per cent of an unusual fatty acid (UFA) in a plant called Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard plant family (Brassicaceae or Cruciferae) that is often used as a biological plant model in research. According to an article in Science Daily UFAs are typically sourced from petrochemicals, not plants and researchers hope to determine how plants can become biofactories.
I first heard about bioplastics a few years ago when I read about an orange peel based polymer similar to polystyrene aka Styrafoam and plastic labels made from corn. While some bioplastics are used in products, it is still a very new technique. Corn seems to be the plant most often used to create bioplastics such as this Green Toys Tea Set or this ultra modern dinnerware from the Danish company PapCorn, which is also made from wheat.
The Crop Biofactories Initiative (CBI) is expected to continue for 12 years and the focus is on oilseed crops such as safflower and rapeseed (another member of the mustard family), crops that farmers already or can easily grow. The question is, are these better crops to grow than the corn grown for the current biofuel ethanol craze?