Molly Morse has developed a bio-based plastic that is made from waste methane gas and can be recycled over and over again.
The feedstock for Morse’s innovative eco-plastic is waste methane gas from wastewater treatment plants, landfills and agricultural facilities. Classified as a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, methane is potentially 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and also plays a role in the depletion of the ozone layer. Morse and her team at Mango Materials use bacteria to transform methane into pellets or powder of a biodegradable, bio-based polymer – poly-hydroxybutryate (PHB) – that has similar properties to polypropylene and can be made into a variety of products, including electronic casings, children’s toys, shampoo bottles and packaging.
When the PHB products reach the end of their useful life, they can be sent to a landfill or digester, where they degrade and produce methane – which can be made back into PHB plastic. How quickly the product biodegrades depends on the landfill environment and the material’s thickness, the California-based startup said on its website.
“…The process can be a completely closed loop, cradle-to-cradle solution with a significant impact on the worldwide plastics market,” Morse wrote on a Huffington Post blog. “And, by providing an incentive for methane capture, it will promote the sequestration of millions of pounds of this greenhouse gas.”