Remember that plastic made from fruit? Scratch that. A team of researchers at the University of Florida might well be on their way to cutting our dependence on valuable natural resources to create plastic. Instead of using food carbohydrates or petroleum, new plastics can be made with discarded plant wastes. Yes, that's leaves, grass and petals.
The research lead by microbiology and cell science professors Keelnatham Shanmugam and Lonnie Ingram calls for a "switch from food-based carbohydrates to non-food-based carbohydrates for producing plastics." Using a bacterium called Bacillus coagulans strain 36D1 collected from a geyser in Calistoga, California and adding a smidge of calcium carbonate to the process, they discovered that the yard waste was capable of creating lactic acid yields equal to those created by fermented food carbohydrates.
What this means is that instead of using corn or sugar to create biodegradable plastic, the junk in our backyards can be used resulting in extremely inexpensive plastic that's just as strong and green. Why build cars out of fruit-based plastic when we can build it from crap we can find in everybody's backyard? The researchers estimate "using straw as a raw material is 13 times less expensive than sugar and five times less expensive than corn or wheat."
Talk about savings! University of Florida biological scientist Mark Ou hopes that this new method of creating bioplastics will reduce the U.S.'s dependence on foreign oil. Aside from cars, I want to know when we can start making our own plastics in our own yards, with our own weeds so we can stop buying plastic storage containers from The Container Store altogether. That stuff is expensive.