Seaweed to be used to produce bioplastics
From Foodprocessing.com (Australia)
Researchers have developed a way to introduce sustainably cultivated seaweeds as feedstock for biodegradable bioplastics. SEABIOPLAS is an FP7-funded project that aims to develop a greener alternative to bioplastics.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is expected to be one of the leading contributors to bioplastic growth, and was the most produced biodegradable biopolymer in Europe in 2010. It is a sustainable alternative to petroplastics and is compostable and biodegradable.
Currently, the production of PLA and other biopolymers is based on the use of food sources for humans and animals, such as corn, wheat, sugar beets and sugar cane. With the production of bioplastics expected to rise, the use of these resources will also increase and compete with food and energy production. Thus, a greener alternative to these plastics is needed.
Using seaweed for bioplastics production has the benefit that by-products can be re-purposed. After sustainably grown seaweed has been processed to produce lactic acid (the precursor to PLA), seaweed residues will be generated. These by-products can potentially be used for animal feed or as ingredients or supplements/additives.