We’ve done a lot of shows about people finding ways to reuse or recycle all the plastic that’s around us.

Here’s one that may come as a surprise to you: what if we used that waste plastic to make food?


This idea comes from two researchers, Steve Techtmann of Michigan Technological University, and Ting Lu of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

And it takes some explaining, because as we all know, you can’t eat plastic.

But some bacteria can.

So their system starts by breaking down waste plastic and inedible plant waste into their individual components.

Those compounds become food for communities of bacteria that love to feed on oil, and the bacteria grow new cells which are about 55 percent protein.

Those cells can be dried and made in protein powders that humans can use.

The researchers just won a one million pound prize to refine the process and to make the protein powder as nutritious as possible.

Sounds a lot better than letting that stuff float out into a pile in the ocean, doesn’t it?


One of the first things I do every morning is take a spray bottle and water my houseplants.

Maybe I should take a page from David Latimer.

In 1960 he started growing spiderwort plants inside a big glass bottle.

He sealed it in 1972, making it a closed system in which it basically waters itself over and over!

€1 Million Prize for Plastics-to-Protein Research Awarded to Steve Techtmann, Ting Lu (Michigan Technological University)

Thriving since 1960, my garden in a bottle: Seedling sealed in its own ecosystem and watered just once in 53 years (Daily Mail)

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Photo by Kamil Kaczor via Flickr/Creative Commons