New Zealand professor developing bioplastic process from food waste

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In New Zealand, a University of Canterbury professor is working to convert food waste into plastic precursors polylactic acid and 5-HMF.

Alex Yip, with UC’s Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, is working with Hong Kong Polytechnic University on developing a process catalyst. “The ultimate objective is to produce a high-value product from food waste,” Yip tells Phys.org. “To date, we have completed a proof-of-concept showing that it’s feasible.”

The resulting bioplastics would be 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

“This waste stream carries both opportunity and financial costs,” Yip adds. “What we’re trying to do is add value to that waste by converting it into something useful while at the same time responding to another environmental problem in Aotearoa New Zealand, which is the plastic waste problem.”