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Industry : Green Packaging

Environmentalists Focus on ‘Toxic’ Plastics, But Who Speaks for the Trees?

University: University of Minnesota

Objective of study: To create biodegradable plastic with the mechanical strength of fossil-based plastics

Process and applications:

  • To develop a patented process that separates a tree’s cell wall compounds — cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin — to make a plastic that can replace the popular acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS)
  • The lignin would be converted into ABL (acrylonitrile-butadiene-lignin) resin, worth about $1.20 per pound, and would compete directly with ABS
  • The high-lignin plastics and polymeric materials showed promising tensile strength with formulations using 85 to 100% lignin content
  • They added value to the bio-refining and pulp industries that produce lignin as a byproduct and most often burned it for its fuel valu


  • A route to realizing significant commercial value from lignin in the form or a new renewable plastic

University Details

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public land-grant research university in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota Know more

Juha Kivisto


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Who Speaks for the Trees?