Photokina 2014 highlights

Biodegradable

Researchers from the University of Maine have created biodegradable golf balls, made from ...

Golf balls may be small and the ocean may be huge, yet traditional plastic-skinned balls that are whacked into the sea are nonetheless a source of pollution, and a potential hazard to marine life – anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where a whale got one of Kramer's golf balls down its blowhole? It would certainly stand to reason that biodegradable balls would be the logical choice for golfers who want to use the ocean as their driving range, and such balls do already exist. A team from the University of Maine, however, have recently created golf balls made from lobster shells ... and they have a couple of advantages over similar products.  Read More

The Phoenix is a concept car, with a biodegradable body built from rattan and bamboo (Phot...

While the metal bodywork of cars certainly can be melted down and recycled, the process requires a lot of energy, and therefore isn't entirely eco-friendly. Making cars out of easier-to-recycle materials is certainly one approach to the problem, but designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Albrecht Birkner have another idea – cars with sustainably-sourced, biodegradable bodies. To that end, they have created the Phoenix, a full-sized rolling chassis made from rattan and bamboo.  Read More

Meat and bone meal (pictured above) has been used to create partially-biodegrable bioplast...

Creepy as it may sound, for decades one of the key ingredients in cattle feed was meat and bone meal (MBM), made from by-products of – you guessed it – slaughtered cattle. Sheep, farmed deer, elk and bison were also unknowingly eating their own kind. With the onset of the Mad Cow Disease scare in 1997, the U.S. and other countries banned the use of MBM-containing feeds, as it was believed that the disease could spread via the ingestion of infected animals' body parts. That ban has resulted in large quantities of MBM simply ending up in landfills. Now, however, scientists are suggesting that it could be used to make green(ish) plastics.  Read More

The Eco Can is a reusable drink container that is 100 percent biodegradable

While Mother Nature would definitely applaud your use of reusable beverage containers instead of merely recyclable ones (or worst yet, disposable ones), there are some situations in which you don’t want to be toting that coffee flask you bought at Starbucks. When you’re out hiking or biking, for instance, it would be nice to have something that stays sealed when dumped into a bag, and that’s compact enough that it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Really, what would fit the bill nicely is a canned drink, but that’s in a reusable container ... enter the Eco Can. Not only is it reusable, but when the time comes, it’s also 100 percent biodegradable.  Read More

OATS Shoes is launching a line of fully compostable sneakers

People may joke about their dirty old sneakers turning into science projects or mini ecosystems, but once OAT Shoes' compostable sneakers become commercially available within the next several weeks ... let's just say, those same people may no longer be joking when they make those kind of statements. Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground – the first batch will even come with seeds in their tongues, so that wildflowers will sprout up in commemoration of users' planted, expired kicks.  Read More

Fujitsu has announced the world's first biodegradable computer, made from organic plastic ...

Last year, Fujitsu introduced a keyboard where nearly half of the plastic normally used was replaced with biodegradable bio- or wood-based substitutes. The company continues its green crusade this year with the introduction of what's claimed to be the world's first biodegradable computer mouse. The M440 ECO optical mouse sports a PVC-free USB cable and is made from a combination of the same Arboform and Biograde materials used in the keyboard – reducing our dependence on oil-based resources one click at a time..  Read More

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam have developed a range of new thermoset resins...

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam have developed a process for making fully biodegradable, non-toxic and non-hazardous thermoset resins from readily available, low-cost plant materials. This new range of plastics could be used for panels such as MDF in the construction industry and replace polyurethane and polystyrene packaging ... all without increasing cost or production times.  Read More

Vanessa trialled the concertina-style tent at UK festival, T In The Park (Credit: Ross Cai...

We've all seen the photos – the absolute devastation at the end of a festival after the revelers have gone home. A number of organizations are turning this waste into green industry including Vanessa Harden and friends at Do The Green Thing who have designed a biodegradable tent that will decompose post-party and replenish the soil in the process.  Read More

Scientists are working to make tougher biodegradable plastics from plants (Image: Horia Va...

Replacing petro-chemical-based plastics with plant-based alternatives is a growing area of research. One popular form of plant-derived plastic is Poly(lactic) acid, or PLA, a type of biodegradable plastic that is currently used to make bottles, bags and is woven into fibers to make clothes in place of polyester. Although PLA has similar mechanical properties to PETE polymer, it has significantly lower heat-resistance, which limits its uses. Researchers are now developing a new chemical catalyst to improve the properties of PLA, making it stronger and more heat-resistant so it can be used for a wider range of applications.  Read More

The PATCH paper watch comes in a range of colors

Altanus, a Geneva-based watchmaker better known for its luxury timepieces made from materials such as steel and gold has turned to a slightly less traditional material for its PATCH watch – paper. Described by the company as having zero environmental impact, the PATCH was inspired by the papier- mâché floats of Italy’s Viareggio Carnival and is made from biodegradable paper in a range of eye-catching colors and designs.  Read More

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