Jittery bugs convert coffee waste to bioplastics


In Singapore, a Nanyang Polytechnic researcher has developed a way to turn coffee waste into the biodegradable plastic polyhydroxyalkanoate at lower costs.

Dr. Henry Leung says the process, which leverages the bacteria Cupriavidus necator and acetone, produces PHA at half the cost. The bacteria eats the coffee waste and converts it to PHA. Acetone is then used to kill the bacteria, which subsequently releases the plastic.

PHA currently sells at prices as high as $28,000 per gram, but Leung says the process can produce PHA at half the cost. He hopes to commercialize the technology in three to five years, and is looking for potential partners, including coffee companies and plastics makers.

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