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Transforming Food Scraps into Plastic

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Transforming scraps of food into plastics would be a pretty environmentally friendly way of creating that material we use to create just about everything these days, wouldn’t it? Food waste wouldn’t be wasted. Well, scientists in Italy are well on their way to doing just that!

Not far from the northern Italian city of Genoa lies the relatively unknown – well, I know Genoa quite well but hadn’t heard of it before reading an article in Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily the other day –  Italian Institute of Technology where, amongst other clever things, scientists have come up with a way of creating bioplastics from, of all things, food scraps.

Such scraps are not necessarily the bits of food we chop off in our kitchens and throw away daily, but the waste produced from processing plant based foodstuffs – think rice hulls, cocoa pod husks, plus spinach and parsley stems. Waste no longer is waste, indeed, it stands to become a valuable raw material. This means, potentially, a boost in income for farmers and food producers.

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The article about this new form of bioplastics, in English, on the Italian Institute of Technology website about this (revolutionary) evolution in bioplastic technology is fascinating: how about plant-based plastics which take on the qualities of their origins? This, apparently, is what could happen. Here are two small examples:

parsley plastic could have antioxidant properties, or cinnamon plastic could be antibacterial

Now, when is Italy going to build a new food scraps to plastic plant? Soon, hopefully.

The innovative Italian Institute of Technology definitely qualifies as a Good Italian Thing and is doing lots of other good things too. Let’s hope it continues.

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