Plastic Made From Feathers Ready For Market

BLACKSBURG — Plastic production could become a feather in the poultry industry’s cap—literally.
calendar icon 25 May 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
In an effort to create biodegradable plastics, Dr. Justin Barone, associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has blended proteins found in poultry feathers and eggs. The result: unused agricultural byproducts—the disposal of which is currently a cost for the poultry industry—transformed into an eco-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastic that’s cheaper to manufacture.
“The horticulture industry has become a very large industry in the United States and is growing rapidly, and it generates a lot of waste in terms of plastic plant containers,”

Dr. Justin Barone, associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Barone said his research has lead to the development of a “first generation” plastic that’s ready for short-term use as flower pots and mulching films.

“The horticulture industry has become a very large industry in the United States and is growing rapidly, and it generates a lot of waste in terms of plastic plant containers,” he said.

“When you go to the store and buy a tree, it has probably been in several plastic containers before the one it is currently in, i.e., a small one when it was planted and then increasingly larger ones as it grew. This generates quite a bit of plastic for the industry, and having a compostable, biodegradable alternative is highly desirable.”

Designed to degrade weeks or months after initial use, this generation of biodegradable plastic lacks the longevity or water resistance of most petroleum-based plastics. Barone said his team is working on second- and third-generation products with improved durability.

Source: VirginiaFramBureauFederation

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