UK researchers turn lignin into bioplastic

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In the United Kingdom, researchers at the University of Warwick have created a bioplastic by genetically modifying a lignin-eating bacteria.

“I have been working on lignin for 40 years and when I started people said ‘you’re wasting your time’ but now people are thinking this is possible. Still difficult but it is possible,” UW biological chemistry professor Tim Bugg said at a press conference. The bacteria, Rhodococcus jostii, usually breaks down lignin into food for its own growth. However, Bugg and his team have engineered the bacteria to instead produce high yields of biodegradable plastic. The team hopes to perfect the process in five years time.