Cattle to car parts: Beef byproducts use to make plastic

University of Alberta professor David Bressler has filed a patent on a new thermal process that can turn beef byproducts into plastics. By finding a way to convert these animal by-products into plastics for industrial use, Bressler and his team hope to divert protein waste from landfills across North America, shift to using renewable resources instead of petrochemicals to make plastics, and boost flagging profit levels in the cattle industry.

Using the throwaway parts of beef carcasses that were sidelined from the value-added production process after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) devastated the industry in 2003, Bressler, an associate professor in the U of A’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, has collaborated with industry, government and other researchers to forge cattle proteins into heavy-duty plastics that could soon be used in everything from car parts to CD cases.

The University of Alberta is the only post-secondary facility to be approved by the Canada Food Inspection Agency to conduct research involving turning high-risk proteins into safe, sustainable materials.

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