IBM researchers have said that they have discovered a way to make Earth-friendly plastic from plants that could replace petroleum-based products that are tough on the environment.
The breakthrough promises biodegradable plastics made in a way that saves on energy, according to Chandrasekhar ‘Spike’ Narayan, a manager of science and technology at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in Northern California.
Almaden and Stanford University researchers said that the discovery could herald an era of sustainability for a plastics industry rife with seemingly eternal products notorious for cramming landfills and littering the planet.
“This discovery and new approach using organic catalysts could lead to well-defined, biodegradable molecules made from renewable resources in an environmentally responsible way,” IBM said. The ‘green chemistry’ breakthrough using ‘organic catalysts’ results in plastics that could be repeatedly recycled, instead of only once as is the case with petroleum-based plastic made using metal oxide catalysts.
Plant plastics could be made ‘biocompatible’ to improve the targeting of drugs in bodies, such as cancer medicines aimed at killing cancer cells but sparing healthy ones, IBM said.