Equipment/Technology, North America, Research, Sustainability

Food of the future? ‘Food generator’ turns plastic trash into edible protein

Two U.S. scientists have won a 1 million euro ($1.18 million) prize for creating a ‘food generator’ concept that turns plastics into protein, reports Georgina Jadikovskaall in this article published by Zenger News.

The 2021 Future Insight Prize went to Ting Lu, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Stephen Techtmann, associate professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, for their project. It uses microbes to degrade plastic waste and convert it into food.

The German science and technology company Merck sponsors the prize. At least 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The two scientists, who call their project a food “generator,” focused on finding an efficient, economical and versatile technology that finds a use for plastics that are at the end of their useful life and would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. Lu calls it “microbial synthetic biology.”

The resulting foods “contain all the required nutrition, are nontoxic, provide health benefits and additionally allow for personalization needs,” according to Merck.

Source: Zenger News. Read the full article here
Photo: Japan alone produces around 10 million tons of plastic each year, and three-quarters of it is discarded within 12 months. A new discovery could use microbes to turn it all into food | Carl Court/Getty Images via Newsweek

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