This article was originally published in The Globe and Mail and was produced by Randall Anthony Communications.
Are the solutions we need to address critical issues such as climate change and sustainability already out there in nature, with their potential waiting to be unlocked? This is the question that drives the University of British Columbia’s BioProducts Institute (BPI), a research centre dedicated to unlocking the full potential of nature-based materials, including trees and other plants, as well as agricultural residuals and waste biomass.
With non-renewable resources like petroleum and its products contributing to climate change and the creation of toxic microplastics and landfill waste, the researchers at BPI are using biological materials – most notably wood, but also other plant fibres and marine matter such as sea shells – in unexpected ways. Researchers at BPI are developing everything from fine fibres for textiles and packing materials made with manipulated wood to more complex materials such as lightweight plastic alternatives, wooden bioproducts that act like glass, energy harvesting and storage devices – all from natural biological sources. While most of these products are still in the research and development phase, the institute and its partners are focused on capitalizing on the opportunity for these products to receive widespread use.
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