Arboform: The New Plastic?

In 1967′s The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin gets cornered by a family friend and told the future is all about one word. “Are you listening?” Mr McGuire asks again. “Yes, I am,” says Benjamin. “Plastics.” An awkward pause before Benjamin asks, puzzled,  ”Just how do you mean that, sir?” It’s one of the great random movie quotes. It’s not just an iconic scene from Mike Nichols’ classic, but it serves as a time capsule before the whole world did, in fact, become dominated by plastics. On LTT, we’ve covered the enormous issue of plastic waste, like the Texas-sized swirling mass of garbage in the Pacific Ocean. But scientists in Germany may have the 21st century answer to plastics. It’s called ‘Arboform.’

Arboform is a renewable plastic with wood-like qualities, yet can be formed into any shape. This “liquid wood,” as it’s called, is derived from wood pulp-based lignin and can be mixed with a number of other materials to create a strong, non-toxic alternative to petroleum-based plastics.. When combined with resins and flax, the “bio-plastic mass” looks and feels like wood and can be used to make several products “such as furniture, toys, loudspeakers and even car interiors.”

And, with all that plastic clogging up our oceans, Arboform looks like a compelling alternative. It is totally biodegradable and its raw material lignin is available in abundance, making it an environmentally friendly material that can potentially save significant natural resources.

[Sources: ISDA, PSFK]

  • Tags: Design, Have you checked out...?, Technology, Waste
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