Safety notice: Beware exploding green heads

Oh dear – what a quandary!

Oppose all things genetically modified or oppose plastic made from petroleum?

Evil “fossil” fuels or evil frankensteinian fiddlings?

Big Oil or Big Chemical?

Oh, this anti-everything greenie life is such a tricky balance. All because some clever Bugg in Warwick?is using clever bugs to create biodegradable plastic.Quote:

Biodegradable plastic that can be tossed out with food scraps could be on the shelves within five years after scientists found an ingenious way to turn ?tree glue? into packaging.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have found that a natural glue called lignin, which holds cellulose fibres together, stiffening plant stems, can be turned into a strong, moldable plastic.

Lignin is a byproduct of the paper making process. While it is useful in plants, it causes paper made of wood pulp to weaken and discolour quickly, and so it is removed.

In its raw form it is useless, but Professor Tim Bugg at Warwick University has developed a way to use genetically modified bacteria to turn the glue into useful chemicals.

He found that a bacterial called Rhodococcus jostii which lives in the soil and feeds on the glue, can be genetically tweaked so that it turns lignin into high yields of biodegradable plastic. […]

There are only a small number of organisms that can break down lignin and Prof Bugg?s team are using the genetic material from two strains of bacteria to speed up the process.

?Normally the bacteria uses it for growth, and breaks it down into small molecules which it uses as food to grow,? he added.

?So we are trying to intercept that process so it still can grow but it can do something for us at the same time.

?Because lignin is complex, as you break it down you get a complex mixture but what?s nice is with these bacteria they are able to funnel all this. We are hoping in five years that we will have something.? […] End of quote.

While you are waiting for the five years to pass and this new wonder plastic to be available, here are the suggestions from the oddly named “Plastic Oceans Foundation”. (Why do they want plastic oceans?)

  • Use paper mushroom bags to transport loose fruit from supermarkets and grocers instead of plastic.? (10kg of spuds in mushroom bags – yup, that’ll work)
  • Buy a butter dish so that you can purchase butter wrapped in greaseproof paper rather than in cartons. Likewise choose cheese which is wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
  • Leave packaging at the till. Make excess packaging a problem for supermarkets. (That’ll certainly speed up the till process, as we all unpack our cornflakes, sugar and flour etc)
  • Swap single-use cigarette lighters for matches. Environmentalists are frequently finding plastic cigarette lighters in the stomach of dolphins, whales and birds.
  • Ditch plastic bottles and drink water from the tap. Buy a steel bottle to transport tap water. Metal carriers also stop chemicals from plastic leaching into water. End of quote.

Alternatively, you can carry on with a normal, sensible, responsible attitude to life. Using plastic where appropriate, reusing your ‘single-use’ supermarket bags as bin liners or doggy-doo scoopers etc and then responsibly disposing to landfill where they will be buried with no chance of creating a plastic ocean.

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