The team of students 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.
The Imperial team re-engineered the genetic code of harmless E.coli bacteria so that they can break down landfill waste and turn it into bioplastic. Current methods for making bioplastics rely on plants as the main ingredient, which means agricultural land has to be used to grow the plants. The team says the process could be scaled up to industrial levels and that using waste material instead of plants could free up agricultural land to grow food.
In addition to making bioplastics from waste, companies are increasingly creating energy from refuse. Waste Management generates the equivalent of 9.8 GW of power through waste-to-energy projects and harvesting landfill gasses. In October, Waste Management announced plans to build a plant in Illinois that converts gas from its Milam landfill into useable fuel for its natural gas powered trucks.
Last month Zero Waste Energy broke ground on an anaerobic digestion facility that will convert 11,200 tons per year of food and green waste into more than 100,000 diesel equivalent gallons of compressed natural gas fuel and compost.
Photo Credit: landfill waste via Shutterstock