What Next? Polyester Plants?

Researchers develop a hybrid that yields biodegradable plastic

THE GREAT THING ABOUT PLASTIC IS THAT IT IS cheap and it lasts forever. Unfortunately, as an inventory of any trash heap reveals, those are also its bad qualities. Scientists have spent more than a decade developing biodegradable polymers, but so far they have proved 10 times as expensive to produce as petroleum-based versions. Last week researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., announced that for the first time, they have coaxed the production of a biodegradable plastic from a very inexpensive source: green plants.

In their study, which was reported in the...

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