Creating Plastic Out Of Feathers

U.S - A researcher has recently discovered how to turn feathers into polymers. His next trick is to produce cost-affective, bio-degradable plastic.
calendar icon 30 March 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The thought of carrying your shopping home in a bag made out of feathers seems rather impractical and somewhat dangerous, but according to researcher Justin Barone of Virginia Tech, the technology is just around the corner. The polymers that are created from feathers are much more environmentally friendly than petroleum based polymers, not only do they break down in compost but they are also bio-based and require less energy and cost in their production.

The research was presented on the 29th of March at the 233rd American Chemical Society National Meeting in Chicago, Ill. The environmental Protection Agency has since expressed it delight to to the new research which could potentiality take chunks out of the massive 29 million tonnes of non-biodegradable plastics that end up in landfills each year. The news will also please poultry farmers too. It is estimated that 2.5 billion pounds of feather waste is generated by the US poultry industry annually. Disposing of this waste is a costly practise they would rather avoid.

According to Barone, the technology to create biodegradable plastics from biomass, such as corn and soybeans, has been around for more than 70 years, but the price of these commodities has risen proportionately to the push to increase energy production from them. Consequently, products that have been created have failed to reach the market at a competitive rate. Barone hopes all that is about to change.

"The challenge in developing biodegradable plastics is creating a product as good as, if not better than, its petroleum counterpart," explains Barone. "The industry is looking for a versatile product that can be used for multiple markets."

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