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Virginia Tech research focuses on a completely biodegradable material that can replace traditional films used to cover crops and mulch.

Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor

August 5, 2021

A new video posted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) points to research at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Overseen by Prof. Rebecca Cockrum assisted by grad student Hailey Galyon, the research aims to develop bioplastic materials from bacteria to replace single-use plastics used on farms.

Completely biodegradable, the material comes from a unique source: bacteria.

It’s said to be ideal as a cover for crops and mulch to replace traditional single-use plastic films. Notably, the bioplastic is much more animal friendly — it avoids problems for ruminates aka cattle, goats, and sheep, which eat available sources that can include plastics that are not digested.

“While you may not see health problems with the animals during their lifetime, it reduces their feed intake and production,” says Galyon.

It would provide a novel, polymer-driven pathway for farms to reduce their carbon footprint and increase sustainability.

About the Author(s)

Rick Lingle

Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday

Rick Lingle is Senior Technical Editor, Packaging Digest and PlasticsToday. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree from Clarke College and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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