Global Processing

IBM Makes Earth-Friendly Plastic from Plants

March 15, 2010
According to the Associated Foreign Press, IBM researchers have discovered a way to make Earth-friendly plastic from plants that could replace petroleum-based products that are tough on the environment. "This discovery and new approach using organic catalysts could lead to well-defined, biodegradable molecules made from renewable resources in an environmentally responsible way," IBM said in a release. The "green chemistry" breakthrough using "organic catalysts" results in plastics that could be repeatedly recycled, instead of only once as is the case with petroleum-based plastic made using metal oxide catalysts. Plant plastics could also be made "biocompatible" to improve the targeting of drugs in bodies, such as cancer medicines aimed at killing cancer cells but sparing healthy ones, according to IBM. IBM is working with scientists at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia to put the discovery to work in the recycling of plastics used in food and beverage containers. Details of the work are in a paper published this week in the American Chemical Society journal Macromolecules.