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Preventing The Problem of Plastic Pollution

Foamwineshipper image
Biodegradable fiber foam wine shipper designed as a replacement for plastic foam wine shippers. (Photo by Greg Glenn, ARS)

Plastic … it's a modern day fact of life and it's everywhere, particularly single-use plastic containers. You might not give it much thought but products like toothpaste, shampoo, condiments, carryout containers, and even water nearly always come in packaging that we use once and then throw away. These single-use containers fill up our landfills and can last many years, with some plastics taking hundreds of years to degrade. If not disposed of properly, plastics can litter our landscapes and spill into our oceans. For this reason, researchers are working to replace these plastics with materials that are biodegradable and earth friendly.

One approach to eliminating plastic packaging is to use plant-based fiber to create products that are environmentally harmless but provide similar results to plastic. ARS researchers have developed techniques to make fiber packaging from materials like wheat straw, bamboo, and cotton.  Learn more.