Bioplastics from Starbucks’ food waste
With 1.3 billion tons of food trashed, dumped in landfills and otherwise wasted around the world every year, scientists have developed a new “biorefinery” intended to change food waste into a key ingredient for making plastics, laundry detergents and scores of other everyday products.
Their report on a project launched in cooperation with the Starbucks restaurant chain ― concerned with sustainability and seeking a use for spent coffee grounds and stale bakery goods ― came at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
The food biorefinery process involves blending the baked goods with a mixture of fungi that excrete enzymes to break down carbohydrates in the food into simple sugars. The blend then goes into a fermenter, a vat where bacteria convert the sugars into succinic acid (News Release ACS, 20 August 2012).