Chemists work up new formulas for greener plastic

MycoBond is biodegradable packaging material made from mushroom and agricultural waste that was developed by Ecovative Design. Five years ago, engineers Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre founded Ecovative based on a revolutionary approach that aims to rid the world of plastics and synthetic foam by substituting mycelium-based products. Read more in this discovery. Credit: Edward Browka, Ecovative Design
MycoBond is biodegradable packaging material made from mushroom and agricultural waste that was developed by Ecovative Design. Five years ago, engineers Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre founded Ecovative based on a revolutionary approach that aims to rid the world of plastics and synthetic foam by substituting mycelium-based products. Read more in this discovery.  Credit: Edward Browka, Ecovative Design
MycoBond is biodegradable packaging material made from mushroom and agricultural waste that was developed by Ecovative Design. Five years ago, engineers Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre founded Ecovative based on a revolutionary approach that aims to rid the world of plastics and synthetic foam by substituting mycelium-based products. Read more in this discovery.
Credit: Edward Browka, Ecovative Design

Plastics are a miracle of modern science and are now fundamental to our everyday lives. Of course, they are also a constant reminder of our throwaway society. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), chemist Marc Hillmyer of the University of Minnesota and a team at the Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) are dedicating their research to transforming the way plastics, or “polymers,” are made and unmade.

The Center’s vision is to design, demonstrate and develop economically competitive and environmentally friendly polymers that may even outperform their traditional counterparts. To accomplish the goal, these chemists are working on new strategies using renewable feedstock chemicals, such as sugars, plant oils and other naturally sourced starting materials.

The CSP is one of the NSF-funded Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI), which are focused on major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges. CCIs are producing transformative research that is leading to innovation and attracting broad scientific and public interest.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #413862, Center for Sustainable Polymers.