A company in Mount Crawford, Virginia has invented a way to turn chicken feathers into a biodegradable plastic. The company is called Eastern Bioplastics, and they replace the petroleum in plastics with a strong protein in chicken feathers called, keratin. There is an abundance of chicken feathers from the 8 billion chickens that are consumed in the united states each year. Instead of adding these feathers to the landfills, Eastern Bioplastics are repurposing them into sustainable, earth-friendly products.
Eastern Bioplastics turns chicken feathers into bioplastic pellets which are distributed to other companies which make sporting equipment, office furniture, and automotive parts. Another use engineers are experimenting with is the use of chicken feather plastic to make electronics and circuit boards. Every year the world throws away 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronics, much of which are cellphones, tablets and computers. If our electronics are made with bioplastic, instead of filling the worlds landfills with tons of materials that will never go away, we’d be throwing away something that would decompose fully in three to six months.
Eastern Bioplastics has also recently created a product using chicken feathers called, Environmental Bioprotector. It is a fluffy, powder substance that is oil absorbent and can be used to clean oil spills. This substance can absorb seven-times it’s own weight, and does not absorb water. The environmental bioprotector sits on top of the water and absorbs the oil that is mixed into the water, once it’s absorbed, the oil it can easily be skimmed off the surface of the water.
Eastern Bioplastics has found a way to reduce bio-waste, reduce plastic waste, and create products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. According to their website, switching to bioplastics could reduce the carbon footprint by 50%. Eastern Bioplastics also urge companies to make the switch to bioplastics because it has economic and financial benefits. They are creating a profit from a product that was previously waste, and has no cost to use. Eastern Bioplastics claim that products created from bioplastics have a greater market appeal, because it’s sustainable, and that is something today’s consumers care about. As well they are not disrupting the global food supply, and their bioplastic can be used in existing machinery so companies won’t have to make any expensive updates. Eastern Bioplastics have proven that we can have a great commercial shift now. That companies could stop the production of new plastic, switch to bioplastic, and continue to make products without skipping a beat.
Scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi, are also creating ways to stop plastic pollution in it’s tracks. They are developing a type of bioplastic that can dissolve in sea water. Their hope is that they could use this bioplastic for food packaging, grocery bags, water bottles, plastic food utensils— all the things that regularly end up in the ocean, because roughly only 18% of plastic actually gets recycled— and then the plastic that accidentally ends up in the ocean will dissolve in approximately 20 days. Because the bioplastics are made from organic materials, they will not give off any toxic byproducts when they dissolve in the ocean.
From the blog posts I’ve done this term I’ve tried to prove that solving the problem of plastic pollution is something we have the capability of doing now. We have the technology to clean the oceans, to stop the production of new plastic, and reuse the waste piling up in our landfills without upsetting our current lifestyles. Scientists, engineers, and environmentalists have already created, tested, and proven that we already have successful, sustainable alternatives that can replace our current products that are hurting the environment. The only thing we have left to do now is to implement these new technologies.
I think the biggest challenge is going to be standing up to corporate giants who have the corner on oil based products and fuel, and prove to them that today’s consumer no longer wants those things. Today’s consumer cares about the environment, they are concerned about global warming, and pollution, and depleting resources, and they are ready for change. If consumers were given more choices, corporations would see that people would spend their money on sustainable products. If you agree and would like to see a change in our current systems here are some ways you can take action!
people who are taking initiative,
- like Boyan Slat and his historic ocean cleanup.
- Or Eastern Bioplastics mentioned above.
- Or Akinori Ito’s educational program to educate others with his portable machine which turns plastic back into oil.
- Or the Fuel Freedom Foundation, who is working to get our lawmakers to diversify our fuel sources.
- Or your local non-profit environmental organizations, such as, Oregon's environmental non-profits.
in local initiatives in your communities,
- such as, SOLVE , which serves the Oregon Coastal areas and hosts an annual community beach and riverside cleanup.
The corporate giants and law makers,
- Tell big companies you want more choice in the products you buy. Twitter has been a great resource in getting companies to listen to their consumers, the more of us tweeting at big corporations, the more they will listen. Here is a successful example of a company changing their advertising based on the demands from their consumers.
- Contact your law makers and tell them you want alternative fuel sources,
- That you want laws that hold plastic producers accountable for the damage they are doing to our environment,
- And laws that reduce the production and use of plastic in our communities. Portland and Los Angeles are great examples of a cities that are taking responsibility for their plastic pollution with their plastic bag ban.
to help reduce landfill waste,
- by choosing to use reusable shopping bags and water bottles.
- Choose to separate your garbage at home into recycling, compost, and landfill waste.
- During your work week, bring your own reusable coffee cup to your morning coffee shop
- or bring your own reusable containers and silverware to your favorite lunch time restaurants.
- If you forget to bring your reusable items, forgo the plastic lids and straws on your drink cups, and ask for paper options.
the things you’ve learned on social media,