Heinz and Ford exploring new uses for tomato waste

Heinz ends up with a large number of byproducts while using more than two million tons of tomatoes annually to make ketchup and the hope is that the skins, peels, stems and seeds can be recycled to make a plant-based plastic. 

Ford has also enlisted the help of Coca-Cola, Nike and Procter & Gamble to help create “a 100 percent plant-based plastic to be used to make everything from fabric to packaging.” 


See also: Earlier Unconsumption posts on bioplastics here

My tongue piercing experience: discussing materials

After my tongue’d healed up I was able to experience the pleasure of purchasing new piercings. This is what I learned about materials (I’m not a professional so correct me if I got anything wrong)

Surgical stainless steel: It’s what you get pierced with usually. It looks flattering and shiny. The bad thing about it it’s that it’s harder than your teeth. It means that if you’re not careful enough, you can bite on the balls and chip your teeth.

Titanium: If you are allergic to nickel the piercer shouldn’t use steel. Titanium has a much lower nickel content, therefore this is the material your piercer might use to pierce you.

Bioplast: It’s a new thing on the market. Piercings made of bioplast come in many different colours. They are flexible and comfy. And if you bite on the balls they won’t ruin your teeth. It’s better to break the piercing than your teeth, right?

Acrylic: I’ve heard many bad things about it. It can harbour bacteria, cause infections, break down  and start releasing toxins. Yet, it’s one of the most popular piercing materials. Acrylic balls come in various shapes and colours and they are extremely cheap. I’d say it shouldn’t be a problem if it’s not something you wear daily. If you end up wearing acrylic, I suggest you to purchase a bar made of one of the materials above and only use balls made of acrylic.

I ordered my piercings online from Most of them are pretty cheap and there are many colours and materials that you can choose from. I got free shipping and even 15% off, which I think is a great deal.

This is my collection now. A bioplast retainer, a stainless steel piercing that I got at my local piercing studio, two acrylic-balls piercings and two bioplast piercings. One of the bioplast ones is in my tongue now and it’s super comfy!!

You can check out the whole healing process on my blog.

Take care! x

Promising solution to plastic pollution - Harvard’s Wyss Institute creates bioplastic made from shrimp shells

From Harvard Gazette:

For many people, “plastic” is a one-word analog for environmental disaster. It is made from precious petroleum, after all, and once discarded in landfills and oceans, it takes centuries to degrade.

Then came apparent salvation: “bioplastics,” durable substancesmade from renewable cellulose, a plant-based polysaccharide. But problems remained. For one, the current bioplastics do not fully degrade in the environment. For another, their use is now limited to packaging material or simple containers for food and drink.

Now researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have introduced a new bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. It’s made from chitosan, a form of chitin — the second-most abundant organic material on Earth.

[read more] [Image by Wyss Institute]

Polyester bees: Born in a plastic bag

The early March sun warms exposed soil, triggering the emergence of male polyester bees, which swarm the ground, waiting for females to dig to the surface. The half-inch bees – also known as plasterer bees – mate while rolling on the ground or while flying, joined to each other in midair.

Unlike social honeybees, polyester bees are solitary. After mating, males fly off to finish their short lives sipping from freshly opened tree blooms. Each female works alone on her own nest, a foot-and-a-half-deep tunnel as wide as a pencil, dug straight down into the ground. Eggs are laid in pockets, or brood cells, dug into the sides of the tunnel.

Every night, the female digs out a new brood cell and lines the cell with polyester secreted from her abdomen. “She spreads it on the cell wall with her paintbrush-shaped tongue,” says Suzanne W.T. Batra, a retired USDA entomologist, who began studying solitary bees in the 1960s.

 Deb Chachra in Concrete-Printing Bees And Other Living 3D Printers

A still-unknown agent – maybe something in the bee’s saliva – reacts with the polyester, causing it to harden into a flexible waterproof plastic resembling cellophane.“ "During the day, the female collects nectar and pollen and packs it into the cell along with some glandular material. She lays an egg, suspended over the food, and seals the cell with more polyester. "Closes it like a zip-lock bag,” says Batra. The bee plugs the cell entrance with soil, packing it down with the tip of her abdomen before starting to dig another cell.

Some people might be alarmed to find polyester bees swarming the grounds of their property.

Fear not, says Batra. “The bees rarely sting. You’d have to sit on one to get it to sting you.” Her advice: “Wait a month and they’ll go away on their own.” By mid-April, any remaining bees will be limping about on tattered wings. They won’t be seen again until larvae go through metamorphosis and emerge late next winter.

Pollinator Conservation on Small Farms by Nancy Adamson

A native alternative to honeybees

North America has 4,000 species of bees. Many lead solitary lives similar to that of the polyester bee. “Some are much better pollinators than honeybees,” says Batra, “and native bees aren’t affected by the parasites and diseases that are killing honeybees.”

But modern agriculture, with its vast fields, pesticides and scarce natural areas, doesn’t encourage fertilization by native bees. “You would need undisturbed areas nearby,” says Batra, “so that the bees could nest and fly out to the fields to pollinate.”

Bee plastic

Unlike some synthetic plastics, bee plastic is biodegradable. Batra tested that by burying a bunch of brood-cell linings, which disintegrated after five years.

A research group at Olin College of Engineering has been studying polyester bee plastic for several years: “Bio-plastics are only in the early stages of development,” says student researcher Shannon Taylor. “Our goal is to understand [bee plastic] well enough to create something similar ourselves.”

Related: Save the Honeybee, Sterilise the Earth; Creating Insect Habitats; Beneficial Insect Habitats; Insect Hotels

#biomimicry #bees #pollinators #pollination #agriculture

Scientists explore environmental advantages of horticultural bioplastics

New bioplastic materials may enable gardeners to tend their plants more sustainably and could even help plants “self-fertilize” and grow healthier roots, according to research conducted by Iowa State University horticulturists.

Bioplastics present a range of environmental advantages, such as improved biodegradability, that conventional petroleum-based plastics can’t claim, said William Graves, associate dean of the ISU Graduate College and professor of horticulture. Graves, along with James Schrader, an associate scientist in horticulture, and a team of researchers recently concluded a five-year study of bioplastics in an attempt to identify materials that show promise for horticultural uses, such as the plastic pots and flats that retailers use to sell immature plants.

Bioplastics come from renewable biological sources, such as plants, and large-scale adoption in the marketplace could ease dependence on fossil fuels, he said.

The study looked at numerous options for bioplastic derived from sources such as polylactic acid and the more biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoates. They also included byproducts that result from the production of corn, soybeans and ethanol.

“We narrowed the available materials down to a small number and found a handful of options that can be the solutions, depending largely on the length of use,” Graves said.

Read more.


London-based designer designer Peter Marigold is launching a remouldable bioplastic card that can be used to make new tools and modify or repair broken objects.

The credit card-shaped piece of plastic softens in a cup of hot water, allowing it to be moulded into new forms, or used to repair objects.

The designer worked closely with the moulders, colourant suppliers and chemical company that produces the plastic to create a product that would be completely food-safe and biodegradable yet still bright coloured.

More: Peter Marigold’s FORMcard melts into a mouldable plastic glue

— d.n.
Biodegradable Plastic Made From Natural Polymer

Wolfgang Glasser says he was hesitant at first when a start-up company asked him to be their chief scientific officer. But then the professor emeritus of sustainable biomaterials realized that cycleWood Solutions Inc. could make his dream — biodegradable plastics from a plentiful natural resource — a reality.


Title: Phototropia

Category: #smartmaterial #bioplastics #electro-active polymers

Author: Computer Aided Architectural Design, ETH Zurich

Year: 2012


Description: Phototropia is part of an ongoing series on the application of smart materials in an architectural context and was realized in April 2012 by the Master of Advanced Studies class at the Chair for CAAD. The project combines self-made electro-active polymers, screen-printed electroluminescent displays, eco-friendly bioplastics and thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells into an autonomous installation that produces its required energy from sunlight and - when charged - responds to user presence through moving and illuminating elements.

Recipe for antibacterial plastic: Plastic plus egg whites

Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The bioplastic materials could also be used for food packaging.

Researchers tested three nontraditional bioplastic materials–albumin, whey and soy proteins–as alternatives to conventional petroleum-based plastics that pose risks of contamination.

In particular, albumin, a protein found in egg whites, demonstrated tremendous antibacterial properties when blended with a traditional plasticizer such as glycerol.

“It was found that it had complete inhibition, as in no bacteria would grow on the plastic once applied,” said Alex Jones, a doctoral student in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors. “The bacteria wouldn’t be able to live on it.”

Continue Reading.


Kuskoa Bi chair is a 100% bioplastic chair made by Jean Louis Iratzoki for Alki. With the goal to create a comfortable, enveloping chair without using traditional, environmentally polluting materials, they created a new material.

Made of polymers similar to plastic, bioplastic is made from 100% plant-based renewable resources (think corn starch, sugarcane, beets, etc.). Fully recyclable, it doesn’t leave a heavy footprint on the earth and is even biodegradable.

More here.

— d.n.


Water heals bioplastic

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

Scientist from PENN State developed a bioplastic with the ability to stick itself back together with a drop of water. The plastic is a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth, which may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other hard to repair in place objects, according to an international team of researchers.

[read more]


Joahanna Schemeer: Bioplastic Fantastic  — Between products and organisms (2014)

As interactive products are growing closer and closer to the body, and scientists are making advances in the use of biological matter in materials suitable for product design, it feasible that soon biochemical processes will be taking place in and on our technological devices.

Bioplastic Fantastic investigates new types of products and interactions which might emerge from these material innovations in the fields of bio- and nanotechnology. It speculates about the future design and use of domestic products made from enzyme-enhanced bioplastics. The concept is based on a recent scientific breakthrough in the synthesis of functioning “biological” cells made from polymers and enzymes.  (artists statement)


Jean Louis Iratzoki claims that the Kuskoa Bi chair designed for Basque furniture brand Alki is the first on the market to feature a 100 per cent bioplastic seat. …

Iratzoki’s studio researched and developed a type of plastic that is made using only renewable plant-based resources such as beet, corn starch and sugarcane.

“This bio-based polymer is fully recyclable and its organic properties mean that, when subjected to an industrial process, it is biodegradable,” said Iratzoki.

More at Dezeen.