In Michigan, Michigan State University scientists are proposing a new way to economically produce biodegradable plastics with sunlight and help from an ancient microorganism. Researchers at the Ducat MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory took cyanobacteria, that use sunlight to naturally produce sugar, and genetically tweaked them to constantly leak that sugar into a surrounding saltwater medium. They paired them with natural bioplastic-producing bacteria that fed on the leaked sugar. The pairing was prolific.
Processed biomass contained a near constant 30 percent bioplastic content, four times more than similar experimental systems, and production rates were over 20 times faster.