Starbucks Tests Biorefinery That Uses Fungus and Bacteria to Turn Coffee Grounds and Stale Pastry Into Plastic
The material in question is a basic sugar compound called succinic acid, which can be used as a sweetener and also as a feedstock for products like bio-plastics.
The biorefinery would work by blending pastries and other food waste with some fungi, which excrete enzymes to break down the carbohydrates in the food. The mixture then goes into a fermenting vat where bacteria decompose the mixture into succinic acid. This material can then be further refined into a variety of products, according to ACS.
Plenty of other food items, notably corn, are already refined into biodegradable plastics, fuel and other materials. But they’re largely the result of crops grown and harvested for the purpose of not being eaten. This method would use food that was originally intended to be food, and turn it into cleaning products or something else.
(via In Hong Kong, Starbucks Biorefinery Turns Stale Pastry and Coffee Grounds Into Plastic | Popular Science)