A biodegradable alternative to plastic bags

Rebecca Harrington

A company based in Arkansas has turned University of Minnesota technology of a biodegradable alternative to plastic bags into a business, Finance and Commerce reported.

Professor Simo Sarkanen developed the compound lignin, which naturally occurs in many plants, to be a feasible material for disposable bags, according to a University News Release.

Students from the University of Arkansas started the company cycleWood Solutions and bought the patent to Sarkanen's technology in 2011. The company has now released their alternative plastic bag to the public.

“I don’t want to say it’s a Band-Aid but it’s a good fix — whether it’s temporary or permanent," cycleWood Solutions' President Nhiem Cao said, "because we’re not asking the consumer to do anything differently."

Users of the lignin bags can still throw them away like they normally would with a plastic bag, but the lignin bags will biodegrade in 150 days, according to cycleWood Solutions' website.

“Instead of having a growing problem," Cao said, "the problem will gradually go away."