@Dave. I am inclined to agree with you. Biological manipulation and introduction of hybrid species is great when they work, but we also have Asian carp, whatever that funky vine that is choking out vegetation down south and other examples of good intentions that have unintended bad consequences. I am in industrial mechanical devices, so have no standing in biologocal engineering, but it spooks the devil out of me
I still don't get the "ick" factor here. Maybe being a cook and a gardener helps, I don't know. What's the difference between unpacking a box holding a piece of furniture cradled in stuff made of dried, squashed peanut hulls and dried, squashed mushrooms versus stuff made of dried, squashed wood pulp? They are both brown and made of plant materials.
That makes sense, Ann. The would reduce the "ick" factor. Yet the ick factor shouldn't be a big deal, since the material would be inert. Some people, though, are particularly uncomfortable with any kind of fungus. I'm going to miss bubble wrap.
Printer, thanks for your comment. I understand what makes you wonder about making this into a kind of paper. I think it would have to be very highly processed, like wood pulp, because the materials are similarly large and rough. So I think it would end up being pretty expensive, unless produced on a very large scale. If this material could be a drop in replacement to existing wood pulp paper manufacturing facilities, that might keep the cost the same as paper. The main thing that would then be "green" about it would be the fact that it doesn't kill trees, and it does use waste material.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by plastic, though--there are so many different kinds. Can you clarify that question a bit more?
Rob, my understanding is that the packaging materials are not aimed primarily at consumers, but at businesses that sell and ship products to consumers. Some of the examples given for packaging are for heavy and/or fragile items like wine bottles and furniture. Insulation is to be aimed at the construction industry. Other R&D they're involved in includes replacements for plastic foam used in cars, and structural biocomposite materials using engineered textiles, such as fiberglass and carbon fibers. This is partly why I think the "ick" factor is over-rated. When you order something online or from a catalog, you get what you get in your shipping box. I've seen a huge variety of crushed brown paper, various versions of bubble wrap, and pellets (petro- and bio-based).
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
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