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Bioplastics from wood residues

A PET-like plastic based on a woody biomass has been developed by a team of researchers in Switzerland.


According to the scientists from the School of Basic Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), the plastic, which can be easily produced from woody biomass, is tough, heat-resistant and is also suitable for food packaging due to its barrier properties. It is also chemically recyclable due to its structure and can be broken down into harmless sugars in the environment. "What makes the plastic unique," says Professor Jeremy Luterbacher, "is the presence of an intact sugar structure. This makes it incredibly easy to make because you don't have to change what nature provides, and it's easily degradable because it can draw on a molecule that is already abundant in nature." To make the bioplastic, he said, basically wood is taken or another non-edible plant material, such as agricultural waste, is "cooked" in low-cost chemicals to make the plastic precursor in one step. The resulting bioplastic, similar to PET, meets the criteria for substituting several current plastics while being more environmentally friendly, Luterbach explains. It could be used in applications ranging from packaging and textiles to medicine and electronics. The research team has already produced packaging films, fibres for clothing or other textiles, and filaments for 3D printing from the bioplastic. "The plastic has very interesting properties, especially for applications such as food packaging," says Luterbacher.



  • Euwid Recycling und Entsorgung 34/2022 (23.8.2022).
  • Photo: © EPFL

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