Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech received a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create bioplastics from food waste diverted from landfills.
The three-year grant will test the scalability and feasibility of the conversion of these wastes into bioplastics on a national and global scale, with the target of keeping costs for the produced bioplastics as low as possible. Unlike traditional plastics made from petroleum-based materials, bioplastics are made from biological elements such as plant or animal oils and naturally degrade in compost and waterways.
Nearly 40 percent of food produced in the United States ends up in landfills, accounting for the single largest component of municipal waste in the country. This results in not only greenhouse gas emissions, but also carries an annual $165 billion in economic loss from the food, water, energy, and chemicals spent in the food supply chain.
The project also tackles the challenge of oceanic plastic pollution that is becoming ever more apparent, with microplastics affecting nearly 88 percent of all marine species, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Because they can quickly biodegradable in water, these plastics will reduce the lasting impact on marine life across the globe.
The first-of-its kind pilot project will develop and demonstrate an affordable modular bioprocessing system to produce biodegradable bioplastics from food waste.
“This pilot project is a watershed moment in the production of plastics,” said Zhiwu “Drew” Wang, the principal investigator, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, and director of the Center for Applied Water Research and Innovation. “We will provide a blueprint of how to mass produce biological plastics.”
Support Lumiserver & Cynesys on Tipeee
Visit our sponsors
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is the cheaper, easier way to send money abroad. It helps people move money quickly and easily between bank accounts in different countries. Convert 60+ currencies with ridiculously low fees - on average 7x cheaper than a bank. No hidden fees, no markup on the exchange rate, ever.
Now you can get a free first transfer up to 500£ with your ESNcard. You can access this offer here.