The Bio-Plastics Revolution Is Coming, and It Won’t Be Cheap

Watch as researchers work to make plastics that look like, perform like, and cost the same as their petroleum-based alternatives.

This Lab Is Solving Our Plastics Problem

Environmentally friendly plastics? Come on.  

Researchers at the Center for Sustainable Polymers at the University of Minnesota have taken on the challenge.  Here, the team works on a replacement for synthetic rubber in things such as shoes, tires, sporting equipment, and household items.  

  • Watch the full video, the first in Bloomberg's Unsolvable series.

The process starts with starch from corn. Chemists synthesize a polymer in the lab, dry it, and then mold it. These bioplastics, made from renewable resources, don’t depend on petroleum and are compostable to boot. 

One of the things keeping bioplastics out of our grocery stores and homes is that they are still relatively expensive to produce, especially now, with oil prices so low. Over time, the lab hopes to find solutions that make sense for both the environment and the household budget. If they succeed, better plastics might look a lot like the ones we use today.

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