21st Century Alchemy

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong can turn coffee grounds and stale bakery goods into a sugary solution that can be applied to manufacture plastic. Photograph: Alamy

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong can turn coffee grounds and stale bakery goods into a sugary solution that can be applied to manufacture plastic. Photograph: Alamy

We frequently talk about the recycling on these pages, with an eye toward the developing awareness that the concept is no longer limited to inorganic, static materials. This recent article in the Guardian indicates that plant cellulose based plastic is just the tip of the iceberg in the possible ways to convert the mountains of food waste in many parts of the world into materials with environmental benifits.

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong have found that they can turn coffee grounds and stale bakery goods – collected from a local Starbucks – into a sugary solution that can be used to manufacture plastic. The food waste was mixed with bacteria and fermented to produce succinic acid, a substance usually made from petrochemicals, that can be found in a range of fibres, fabrics and plastics.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s