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Startup Turns Methane Emissions into Plastic

California-based startup Newlight Technologies is using methane from dairy farms to make plastic, USA Today reports.

The company says the plastic, called AirCarbon, will be used to make chairs, food containers, automotive parts and even cellphone cases for Virgin Mobile.

The newspaper quotes William Dowd, former global director of industrial biotech research and development at Dow Chemical, who says AirCarbon could be a cheaper alternative to polypropylene.

And while it won’t solve the carbon crisis, “it’s a step in the right direction,” Brent Ehrlich, products editor of BuildingGreen, a company that studies the construction industry, tells USA Today. Ehrlich says AirCarbon could replace oil-based plastic.

Last month a team from Imperial College London announced it had developed a process for turning landfill waste into bioplastic. The team says the healthcare industry could use the bioplastic to make syringes and other disposable devices used in hospitals. They have also developed a method for breaking down the bioplastic so that it can be easily disposed of.

A tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts is the culmination of a collaboration between the Lincoln Motor Company, Weyerhaeuser and Johnson Controls. The product, which the companies say is lighter and more eco-friendly than fiberglass, in a production vehicle is slated for introduction on 2014 model year Lincoln MKX vehicles built early this year.

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