A German company has found a “magic formula” to make a tough, resilient, moldable and recyclable plastic-like substance called Arboform from lignin, a component of wood. Intriguingly, lignin is currently a byproduct of paper production and is usually burned for fuel. Diverting it to manufacturing uses instead would save fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions at the same time.
A story in the Christian Science Monitor shows how plastic substitutes are achieved differently in different countries.
Bioplastics are being made from sugarcane fiber, corn starch, tapioca, potatoes, cellulose, and even soy protein and lactic acid. In the U.S., scientists have focused on making bioplastics from foodstarch, partly because of large agriculture subsidies. But the controversy over biofuels and spiking food prices may make a wood byproduct a more attractive choice.