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Bioplastic ‘Could Cut 50M Tons of E-Waste’

bio-onItalian company Bio-on has released a bioplastics polymer that is 100 percent biodegradable in water and soil and can be used as a substrate for electrical circuits.

When combined with suitable nanofillers, the polymer can act as an electricity conductor, the company says. Bio-on hopes that the product could help reduce the 50 million tons of electronic waste produced worldwide every year.

The use of Bio-on’s bioplastics will not be restricted to smartphones and tablets, the company says. Bio-on expects to extend the product’s use to highly advanced technological sectors, including, eventually, electro-medical equipment for health care.

Meanwhile, Iowa State University has released details of its ongoing bioplastics studies. One five-year study of the production and performance of different kinds of bioplastic plant pots has found evidence that plants in bioplastic plant pots need less food than plants in traditional petroleum-based pots.  This happens because, while the plant is in it the bioplastic pot, the pot biodegrades and feeds the plant.

The study is supported by a $1.94 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture and led by William Graves, a professor of horticulture and associate dean of Iowa State’s Graduate College.

David Grewell, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and chairman of the research team, said the team has been around since 1995 and has grown to 21 members from 12 departments and four colleges. It operates within the Center for Crops Utilization Research. Its researchers have won $6.5 million in research grants over the past five years. One of those is a $16,000 planning grant from the National Science Foundation to build support for a proposed Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites based at Iowa State.

If established and approved by the Iowa Board of Regents, the proposed center would be part of the science agency’s Industry/University Cooperative Research Center Program. It would be a collaborative effort of researchers from Iowa State, the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the agriculture and plastics industries.

In August, Bio-Tec Environmental announced that it had patented a method of creating a layered polymeric plastic or composite.

The biodegradable-plastics company has been granted US Patent 8,222,316 and foreign equivalents for this process. Products that combine the patented method with Bio-Tec’s patent-pending formulations are under development, the company says.

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One thought on “Bioplastic ‘Could Cut 50M Tons of E-Waste’

  1. What an inspiring invention! Could you please outline how the bio-plastic will help reduce ewaste? My understanding of it so far the waste will biodegrade – yet what happens to the chemicals and toxins inside the electronics? At Recharge the Environment, we are very eager to find new research into the reduction of e-waste http://rechargeenviro.wordpress.com. Thank you so much for the update on this product!

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