An innovative, renewable plastic material made from pine needles could offer an alternative to petroleum-based plastics.
Currently, degradable polyesters are mixed with the rubbery polymer caprolactone to be made more flexible, but since caprolactone is made from crude oil, the material is not completely renewable.
To offer a fully renewable alternative, the team from the University of Bath turned to pinene, a chemical found in pine needles and a waste product of the paper industry. Pinene can be used to replace caprolactone, resulting in a flexible product that is also petroleum-free. According to Professor Matthew Davidson, “This research is part of a wider project that looks at using bio-based chemicals like pinene as a sustainable starting material for making a range of useful products, in the place of petrochemicals.”