Substituting Petroleum with Feathers in Plastic Packaging

04.26.17 // Heritage Paper

The use of petroleum in plastic packaging has long been a cause for concern regarding the country’s economy and the health of the environment. Not only is petroleum an expensive, nonrenewable resource, but the production and disposal of petroleum-based packaging can have a harmful impact on the earth. Now, researchers are coming up with ways to use chicken feathers instead of petroleum in some plastic products.

How Chicken Feathers?

The main component required to make plastic with chicken feathers is keratin, a strong protein fiber that is also found in fingernails and hair. The keratin resin can be used to replace petroleum in some products. The feathers used to produce bioresin plastic are those left behind when processing poultry, and while researchers predict that the feathers would take place of 3 percent of current petroleum use, the feathers will never be a complete replacement for petroleum. However, any reduction in petroleum use is still a major step forward for the environment.

The development of feather plastics is still underway, with at least two companies currently refining their use of feathers in items such as flower pots and office furniture. One of the main challenges is ensuring the new plastic performs like petroleum-based materials without significantly driving up costs.

Why Chicken Feathers?

As the cost of oil continues to rise, and consumers and businesses become aware of their own carbon footprints, researchers and packaging manufacturers are seeking out new ways to produce durable plastic using more renewable resources. Today, companies are introducing packages made with materials sourced from sugar cane, mushrooms, agricultural waste and more. Finding an alternative use for chicken feathers is just another way to reduce our use of petroleum, and reduce the costs and toxic waste that come with oil-based plastics.

Heritage Paper is dedicated to providing sustainable packaging solutions, including corrugated cardboard materials, recycled plastics and molded fiber products. Contact us today to learn more.

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