Preposterous New Plastics

Procter & Gamble's newly patented manufacturing process makes plastic packaging up to 75% thinner--potentially saving P&G up to $1 billion per year and keeping countless tons of waste out of landfills. The move follows similar thinning down by Poland Spring and Nivea. But other plastics makers are taking an even more radical turn.

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Bugs make utensils!

Material designer Aagje Hoekstra turns heat-pressed natural chitin--found in the outer shells of darkling beetles--into Coleoptera, a plastic that's water- and heat-resistant up to 200°C, making it an ideal material for disposable cups and silverware.

Milk makes chairs!

Industrial designer Masami Lavault is turning spoiled milk into a plastic, and then into biodegradable furniture like milking stools. The idea, dubbed the Milk of Human Kindness, is to make use of Europe's 3.7 billion annual gallons of dairy waste.

Pineapples make car bumpers!

Researchers at São Paulo State University developed a nanocellulosic plastic (i.e., nature-derived plastic with tiny fibers) made from coconut shells, agave, and pineapple that is 30% lighter than traditional plastics yet three to four times as strong, perfect for impact protection.

[Illustration by Andy Reisinger]

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