Green Plastics from Plants

One day, there would come a time when even synthetic materials like plastics could be created from natural organisms like plants. This is the focus in a research being done in Australia, turning plants into ‘biofactories’ that could produce oil which then can be used to replace petrochemicals utilized to manufacture a variety of products, including plastics.

The joint partnership of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Grains Research and Development Corporation form the Crop Biofactories Initiative (CBI). They have achieved something monumental by accumulating 30% of an unusual fatty acid, also referred to as UFA, in Arabidopsis.

UFAs are gathered from petrochemicals to produce plastics, paints, and cosmetics. CBI is spearheading a research in developing new technologies for concocting UFAs in oilseeds.

Harvesting of biofactory plants can be encouraged and will provide farmers with new, high-value crops to breed, suiting preferred growing conditions. The technology generates low greenhouse gas, is sustainable, and can stimulate agribusiness.

Safflower, one of the plants used in the research, is an ideal plant for industrial production in Australia. It is easy to grow, sturdy, and adaptable to Australian agricultural conditions.

The CBI is a 12-year project with its purpose of adding value to the Australian agricultural and chemical industries through developing technologies that produce novel industrial compounds from genetically modified oilseed crops. The project focuses on three key areas, namely: Industrial Oils, Complex Monomers, and Protein Biopolymers.

The group announced the completion of the first stage of the project on April 28 at the Fifth Annual World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing held in Chicago, Illinois.

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