Discarded food and wastewater could become raw materials for drinks bottles and food wrappers thanks to technology that can turn them into bio-based plastics. The European Union produces a staggering 100 million tons of food waste and 47 million tons of food packaging waste per year, but the technology can help ease both problems at once. A team of researchers has worked out a way to ferment waste water from fruit juice processing plants to make a type of plastic that can be used for bottles. The plastic, known as PHB, is biodegradable and is made naturally by some types of bacteria. Researchers at the EU-funded PHBOTTLE project have found the best way to feed the bacteria with the sugar-rich fruit juice waste. ‘The main objective of the PHBOTTLE project is to develop a new bottle made from biodegradable material,’ said Lurdes Soares, technical and scientific affairs manager for the European Fruit Juice Association, a partner on the project. The issue now is for researchers to work out how to do it cheaply enough that it can compete with current plastics that are made using oil.
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