As we try to reduce our individual consumption and use of plastics, we are also eager to see companies develop new ways to replace plastics in their products. We often think of algae in not a very positive light, in connection with toxic blooms in the ocean or scum on a pond. But, in fact, lowly algae are starting to gain a higher profile as a potential solution to the plethora of plastic in our world, a possible natural replacement in the manufacturing process that is biodegradable. One such effort is being made by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where scientists are experimenting with ways to manufacture synthetic “plastic” using the sustainable natural resource of algae. These biology-based polymers, known as biopolymers, have the same qualities we appreciate in petroleum-based plastic, like strength and durability, but they decompose more quickly. This kind of research is urgently needed if we are going to turn the tide on that incoming tide of plastics!

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